A Rite of Passage – for Mom

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Today is my promotion-graduation–retirement-coming-out party.

I am the guest of honor and the only invitee.  It is a one-woman celebration.  The festivities will not be loud and boisterous; there are no decorations that need to be purchased.

The confetti is exploding on the inside, invisible to the rest of the world.  To everyone else this morning I looked like another mom in jeans, a sweatshirt and flip-flops walking away from a kindergarten classroom on the first day of school.

I crossed the blacktop heading back to my car, in self-admiration of my current state – the simple beauty of my regalia marked more by the absence than the presence of things.  No stroller, diaper bag, or sippy cup in sight.  No baby on my hip. No toddler who I need to wait for because his attention has been diverted to a bug on the ground.

When the baby of the family starts kindergarten it’s a real turning point in any mother’s tenure.  For 13 years, almost to the day, I have had the privilege and the honor to be home full-time with our kids and although I will always be their mom, having everyone at school five days a week will be a monumental shift.

If this were a play, this is where the intermission would take place.  Act 1 is over.  Mom survives the early years of childrearing. Go get your Raisinettes and a drink, Act 2 will begin shortly (with a teenager in the house).

Preparing for Wyatt’s first day was so relaxed.  We perused the aisles of Wal-Mart and Target until he found just the right lunch box and backpack.  I bought him a big red rubber ball and wrote his name in Sharpie about where the equator would be.  We took the ball to school during summer where I taught him the fundamentals of four-square and handball.  He was immunized against horrific childhood diseases; we bought glue and crayons and scissors.  He got a haircut and I clipped his nails this morning for the first time in … maybe ever.

At his well check the pediatrician asked the basic questions: “How is he eating?” “How is he sleeping?”

With the fourth child you can be honest.

“He eats too much white processed sugar.”

And, “We let him stay up watching recorded episodes of ‘The Office’ until really late and then he usually ends up sleeping in our bed.”

When we walked into Wyatt’s classroom today, I was reassured that he had gotten a wise teacher, as each child’s place had no more than a name tag on the desk and a mini canister of play-dough.  Wyatt got red. The kids sat and, no instructions required, they immediately began creating.

I forgot how much I love kindergarten.

So, back to my party. My list of things I have to do can wait one more day. Clean out closets, get the car washed, make a dentist appointment, get a haircut, finish moving in (after two years), on-line traffic school, make meals, do laundry, fill out the mountains of back-to-school paperwork.

Those things can all wait until after my gala.

Like a banquet feast that has been laid out before me, I am not sure where to begin today, and cannot fit it all on my plate. So I will stick to the favorites. A walk on the beach, a cup of hot tea (at a place without a children’s menu), a good book, a nice dark piece of chocolate.

Although my big celebration will be over at 2 p.m. when I go to pick my new kindergartener up at school, I resolve to remember little reasons to celebrate every day.

Tomorrow I will get back to work. First item on the agenda:  Fill out Wyatt’s baby book, which has been sitting empty on the bookshelf for five years.



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