This is going to be glorious

Is it wrong to show up at the bus stop with a sippy cup full of wine?

For me, I mean. Not for my five-year-olds.

Because they’re going to kindergarten this year and, I need to tell you, I will be celebrating. I’ve talked to a lot of kindergarten moms lately who are not excited about their kiddos heading off to big girl and boy school. “They’re growing too fast,” they tell me. “Oh, why can’t they just stay this age forever?”

Um.

Because every time we go anywhere in the car they’re trying to physically assault one another because “she’s looking out my window?”

Developmentally, yes. Five is indeed better than, say, three.

That’s undeniable, measurable, and true.

But seriously? You want to explain to your offspring why “we put the Legos down and go potty when we feel that feeling so that mommy doesn’t have to aggressively pre-wash your underoos to prevent them from smelling like urine” for all eternity?

I’ve seen pictures of moms watching their children take those first unsteady steps toward what will be decades-long reputations from the window of the classroom.

No.

Bad mother.

You are not helping.

I’ve heard stories around the campfire of moms who put their children on the bus that first day of school, wave them off with misty eyes, and then run home to openly weep for three hours.

Are you kidding me?

My kids will be getting on the bus two hours before I even have to be at work, if I want to be on time. Even if I continue to do what I’ve been doing for a year now and go into work an hour early every day, that still leaves me a full sixty – count them sixty – minutes where I don’t have to attempt to apply eyeliner with a five-year-old’s head between me and the mirror, barking demands to know where I’ve hidden her Elsa socks like it’s the twelfth century and she just caught me trying to conjure Satan in the black forest at twilight.

I’ve always loved this time of year. Seasonally, it’s perfect for girls like me, whose lives are just better when sweaters and layers are fully sanctioned and acceptable approaches to fashion. I absolutely cannot even stand how much I love the dry, crispy air and the cool breeze. I love not sweating like a crazy person every single time I so much as look outside. I love being able to sit on the front porch without wilting. I love that my red flannel fur-lined moccasins – which are actually slippers but which I wear with giddy abandon everywhere I possibly can until snow flies because screw you, they have a rubber sole and I am 35 and I do what I want – are consistent with the spirit of the season.

I love the way the air smells like burnt sienna.

Who even knows what burnt sienna is?

No one. No one knows what burnt sienna is. Crayola made it up. It’s not even a thing.

Except that it’s that smell. That dusty, organic, autumn smell, and I love how it settles into everything starting right now.

I love that it’s nerd Christmas. I love that you can go absolutely bat crap crazy buying things like pencil boxes and notebooks and planners and freaking highlighters and no one looks at you like you might be insane.

School supplies, man.

I swear to god that if I ever get married again I’m carrying a bouquet of sharpened pencils and origami flowers folded from the thin, pulpy pages of banned books by subversive madmen like Vonnegut and Twain and Fitzgerald down that aisle.

#notkidding

And now, I have yet another reason to love the start of school: my kids will be there.

Do you know how many times since June I’ve wanted to call someone and just say “pick them up.”

Now someone’s literally going to do that, five out of every seven days, excluding national holidays, and I don’t have to do anything but physically present them each morning for collection.

I’m going to have an hour after I do that to go take a shower without someone just standing outside the curtain, silent and staring at me with no goal other than to make me feel intensely uncomfortable.

I’m going to have an hour to make a cup of coffee without anyone crawling around my feet trying to force me to pet them as they pretend to be my companion unicorn with an overwhelming attachment disorder and a serious touch of separation anxiety.

I’m going to be able to turn off lights and have them stay off. I’m going to be able to drive myself all the way to work blaring uncensored gangster rap from my car’s speakers and buy TimBits on the way there that I won’t be expected to share with anyone.

This is going to be glorious.

The other day, a photo popped up on my TimeHop. I don’t quite recall the context of the day in question, but my daughters were clearly visiting their grandmother and they were about three years old. Their little legs were half as long as they are today, and their toes were twice as chubby. Their hair was still relatively untouched by shears and they crouched next to my stepmother’s flowerbeds on the side of her house, filling plastic trucks of primary red and yellow and blue with dirt. Their stubby hands were fat and filthy. I was struck, instantly, with that impulse most people have to pinch and kiss and cluck and coo. They were so, so tiny. They were so, so very cute.

But where most people stay on track, follow that path of nostalgia right down to the core of wishing for that time back, I stop short of the actual desire to regress. They were beyond adorable. But they were three. I sill had to physically put their shoes on them and keep them contained in a cart when we went to the store. I still had to feed them, the better portion of the time if I wanted them to actually ingest anything. I still had to clean up their messes. I still had to do so much for them. They’ve always been fiercely independent, but compared with today, they were beyond dependent in that photo.

This morning, June blew me away as she showed me how she’d learned to tie her own sneakers using a hot tip from a daycare friend. She and her sister pulled the lunches they’d packed themselves the night before out of the fridge and they didn’t just walk to the car on their own. They got in it unassisted and buckled up without my help as well.

I can’t help but breathe deep and hard, a sigh of relief with every skill they master, every new thing they’re able to do for themselves. Raising two babies simultaneously was intensely difficult. The older they get the happier we all grow. I get that as they grow bigger so do the problems. I get that walking into school is tantamount to stepping over the border into a foreign land, full of strange and unexpected ways for life to get harder and fuller and more chaotic. It’s just that for me motherhood has been hard and chaotic from the beginning.

I’m looking forward to kissing them both and hugging them tight and sending them up the steps and onto the bus and then going home, and knowing that if I cry that day it will be tears of joy to be curling my hair without someone spitting toothpaste on the cord of the straightening iron, or because my coffee will still be hot when I finish the cup.

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