As I write this, I am having lunch by myself at home, something I’ve hardly — if ever — had a chance to do in seven years. My younger one started Kindergarten this year, which means that I now have two kids in school full time.
I can’t believe we’ve finally gotten here.
When I first left a job I loved to stay at home with the kids, it seemed as if I would never reach this point. I dreaded lunchtime in those early days — or any meal, really. I’d be spooning-feeding my toddler with one hand, while rattling a toy at the baby to keep him content with the other. Afterwards, I’d inhale my own food in five bites and then survey the damage around the table, sighing at the prospect of unloading the dishwasher so that I could load it again for the second time in three hours.
Now I am free to get work and chores done in peace for a stretch of time and enjoy my lunch with only the cat for company. And it is lovely to be able to think about me, just me, again. Yet … somehow it’s not quite the way I imagined it to be. I’d always thought that when this day came I’d be thrilled to reclaim my former self, the identity I’ve yearned for and missed for years.
But now I realize that I can never go back to being that person. Nor do I want to. The solitude is nice, yes. But what makes it so great is the contrast — the fact that in a couple of hours the kids will be home again, bubbling about what happened at school.
So in case you’re still in those early days of spoon-feeding and dishwasher overload, just know that one day things will return to normal, impossible as it seems. And by then you might not even want normalcy — because what you have at that point will be even better.