It recently occurred to my husband that with our son starting kindergarten, we’d save some money on preschool. I reminded him that the money we are saving is actually going toward my bonbon fund.
This fall marks the end of an era for this mama when my second child starts going to school all day. It truly is a bittersweet time for me. When I quit my job six years ago to stay home with my daughter, knowing that we would soon be adding another member of the family, I thought for sure I would end up going back to work once both kids were in school.
I spent a good amount of time trying to think of what I would do in my “next life” after being a stay-at-home mom. The further I got into my role, the further I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. Now, I am acutely aware that time has come. Or has it?
The whole time I’ve been home, I’ve kept myself busy with volunteer work, teaching group fitness classes and writing. Many of those things I did while finding ways to shuffle, schlep and bring my kids along with me. Once they started school part-time, I tried to fit as much in while they were in school, but I spent most of my time traveling between preschool and bus stops. I’m going from two and a half hours, three days a week of free time to six and a half hours every day. While that affords me flexibility to work, I’m left with a feeling of apprehension.
I still want to be home when they get off the bus and be able to take them to their activities. I still want to be able to volunteer in their classes. I still want to be able to teach group fitness classes and volunteer on various committees. Going back to work would eliminate many of those things from the equation. But are those things enough? Can I have my bonbons and eat them too?
I’m not sure where my self-imposed deadline of going back to work comes from, but I guess all I need to do is look at the fact that I just referred to it as “self-imposed” and there’s my answer. My identity has been as a stay-at-home mom for the last six years and I got used to the idea that my “job” was caring for my children. But now that the kids will be at school all day, I fear that people will think I’m just sitting around eating bonbons, taking long naps, getting mani-pedis and going to the mall. Worst of all, I’m worried I might get bored.
I don’t know why I doubt myself so much since I never have been the type of person to just sit around and do nothing. Why would I start now? So, here’s what I’m going to do. Cut myself some slack. Enjoy not having to entertain the kids all day. I’m going to grocery shop — alone — and save a ton of money by not having to bribe the kids with treats or toys just to get through the shopping trip. Perhaps I will use the money I save to buy more bonbons!
I’m going to try to teach more group fitness classes during the day since my window of opportunity will open up and I won’t be bound by preschool pickup and drop-off. After all, I need to burn off all those bonbons.
I’m going to go to my committee meetings and not have to lug a bag of tricks with me to occupy the kids for an hour. I’m going to write more.
So, when I wave goodbye to the kids this month as the bus pulls away, I’m surely going to be emotional. I’m going to miss my little partner in crime. But then I’m going to march inside the house and enjoy a few bonbons for the symbolism’s sake. I’m going to let go of my own self-imposed guilt knowing that at some point something will come along that will be a good fit for me to jump back in the workforce. Until then I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and wait with anticipation for the bus to pull up each day — well, most days anyway.