I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d worn shoes every day.
Or by 7am I had styled my hair, applied make-up and donned grown-up clothes. As my ten-year-old began to dress herself her momma was remembering how to get through a routine of her own.
Stay-at-home SoCal moms know we wear flip flops for months on end with maybe a few chilly weeks in Uggs. We don’t brush our hair unless it’s our turn to volunteer at school. Monday through Friday I drank coffee and ushered Junior along in the divine comfort of yoga pants and stretchy tee’s. I’d turn right around to do laundry, dishes and freelance graphic design work, while other cars turned onto the freeway.
After ten years I was proud Junior could get ready without me, but one of the highlights of returning to an on-site office for the first time in her life was our being side-by-side at the vanity, prepping for our days apart in the world.
I had worried about her being in day care for two hours after school and all day during vacations. Truly I missed picking her up at 3pm and hearing grade school gossip over froyo, after chatting with moms in their flip-flops waiting for the bell.
But since about 3rd grade, her peers’ parents had been more and more scarce. At the school gate there were babies, toddlers and preschoolers in tow (I watched their antics, rarely wistful). I spoke wisely to the moms who were left of years to come, watching with interest as other fourth-graders walked home in self-reliant groups to let themselves in and wait for mom and dad to come home, maybe in time for dinner. I now know the shock of coming home in the evening to more work; to be the mom in the grocery store at 6pm with the child sprung from day care (“Can we go home now, Mommy?”). And I only imagined what totally unsupervised ten-year-olds did for those after-school hours, but I’m willing to bet it’s the same thing my child did with me busy at home nearby: they finished homework, snacked and played computer games until dinner.
Yet I decided to spend half a paycheck every month on an after school program, where perky young “counselors” with admirable energy levels led group activities and chatted with my girl. They seemed wholesome enough, and the behavior of her fellow “campers” ran the same gamut as her classmates’. Junior proudly told me she was making new friends she wouldn’t have met during the school day, with its restrictive cliques and minimal free time.
Would she have been better off with me and her screens at home for those hours? At that point I no longer had the choice, but I came to realize it was one of those things Providence worked out for the best. She had company, safe supervision, less screen time, and those ten years just with me would always be a part of her.
As for all the activities I used to take her to for structured time with other kids, that evening and weekend time became just-for-family time.
Let me know your thoughts about transitioning into a not-at-home mom!