For a while before the boys had their first day of kindergarten on Monday, August 26, Katherine and I had been glum. Our little guys were so big now, and would be leaving the nest to strike out into the big world of elementary school, with all the influences and perils that that would mean.
I was prepared and braced for how I would feel when they got on the bus for the first time. Sad, sure, but mostly proud at what smart, kind, personable, funny children we were sending out into the world. It turns out, however, that I was NOT prepared for how devastated I would be at the immediate redefining of my entire world.
For five years, I have been a stay-at-home-dad, part-time at first and then full-time, working here and there and (very, very) occasionally taking time to myself, but mostly raising the boys and taking care of the house.
While I had been aware of the huge change looming, until the bus doors closed behind our boys, I had not accepted it as much as I thought I had. I was nearly catatonic for hours, partly trying and failing to nap, but mostly trying and failing to come to grips with my new status.
People have been asking me for months what I planned to do once the boys started school. I never had a good answer. Take some time to myself, sure. Work more, hopefully. Maybe go back to school and push my student debt into levels worthy of epic poems. Perhaps I’d wrangle an illustrator and write children’s books about my kids’ plush mermaids and gorillas and polar bears.
I suppose that I assumed these pieces would fall into place on their own immediately after I had the house to myself. They didn’t. And still haven’t. While the upheaval of the first day faded about the time we met them at the bus stop that afternoon, here we are weeks later and I still don’t know exactly where my life is headed.
One thing I really wanted to start doing again was blogging. Not in a “for a living” sense, but just so I could update folks on the goings-on in our lives. I had fallen away from this hobby, partly due to time constraints, partly due to lack of good habits and will power, and largely because we were in a rut. There are but so many ways I can write a post about going to the park again and keep it interesting. And once I fell far enough away, it was more and more difficult and nonsensical to write anything even when we did do fun things, like going on trips and having family visit and basically an entire year of fun stuff at their preschool.
I’d like to say that I’m getting back in the game, but to be honest I started writing this post five days after school started, and here we are. What I can say now is that at least in the short-term, I have something to fill some of my new down-time. At the end of the boys’ last year in preschool (and only year at Centreville Preschool, Inc.), I was asked to work first as a camp staffer at the summer camp the school offers, and then to continue as an emergency aide during the 2019-20 year.
This was out of the blue, but not totally weird; I had been a co-oping parent and board member while the boys attended, so they knew I enjoyed working with the kids and wasn’t terrible at it. What started as an emergency substitute situation became a recurring role situation, and besides picking up openings, I now aide once a week during “lunch bunch” and “little scientists,” which are right up my alley since I love lunch and science.
That said, I’m still a little lost. I don’t know where I go next, and while I’ve gotten used to the boys being gone all day every weekday, when they are off school, K is usually off work, so my solo time with them is all but ancient history.