I have faced the last seven autumns with giddy anticipation. Back to school has always meant a return to my normal schedule , something it seems most parents appreciate more the longer a school vacation runs. But for the first time in my own parenting history, I am actually dreading the return to normal.
Perhaps it is because we have been away from normal for so long.
My kids will be heading into a public school building this week for the first time in almost two years; they spent the last academic year in a virtual classroom as our family traveled around America in an RV . We long ago worked through the transitional period a summer break provides and moved along to create a new normal, one that hasn’t included school bells or mandated lunch times. Now the old normal has become the new change that must be gotten used to all over again, and I’m apprehensive.
I hate transition and change as much as the next person. I know we’re going to have a period of adjustment that will, quite frankly, suck. I’ll have to figure out how to have a morning routine again, one that involves getting two kids out the door at a set time regardless of my own plans for the day. I know that sounds simple if you’ve been doing it for a while - I can remember when that morning rush was second nature - but it’s intimidating when you’ve been rolling out of bed at will for 15 months.
I’m nervous for my kids. They haven’t had to follow set schedules and my daughter has been able to pamper her inner Night Owl (mostly because the rest of us have welcomed the absence of her inner Morning Bear.) More than that, they haven’t had to socialize with kids their own age without at least a helpful introduction from my husband and I.
Yes, I admit it. My kids weren’t socialized as much when they were with us all year. I should add, however, that this wasn’t the result of a homeschooling situation, but rather because we were constantly on the move. They played on occasion with other kids on playgrounds across the country, but they weren’t practicing relationship skills with their peers. I’m terrified now that I’ve crippled them emotionally and they’ll spend their school hours alone in a corner pining for their mommy.
I may be letting my maternal imagination overcome my sense of reality a little bit. Maybe.
But it’s not just getting up early or childhood isolation that has me dreading the start of school. The truth is, I’m afraid I’m going to miss my kids.
I’ve spent 15 months with them with very little time apart, and I’ve gotten used to having them around. Yes, there are times when the two of them are bickering that I can’t wait for the silence that fills a house after kids leave for the day - but mostly I’m terrified of that looming emptiness.
How long until Thanksgiving vacation?