This morning my firstborn daughter started 2nd grade. Which is really crazy because she was just born, like, the other day.
She was super excited and full of energy and joy. We went outside bright and early to take some photos before heading to the bus stop.
Our friend and neighbor, on her way to work, even stopped and got out of her car to run over and offer to take a photo of our whole family.
It's a good thing she did, too, because up until today we didn't have anything to use for our Christmas card. And you know that's what you're thinking about on the day after Labor Day.
After Julia got on the bus with her two grade-school buddies, Genevieve and I went home to hang out. I didn't do any work because I figured I'd have all afternoon while she was at kindergarten to get work done.
Genevieve said she didn't want to go to school, but she sure was excited to put on her new puppy backpack when the time came.
The kindergarten bus was late. It was hard to wait. For me, I mean.
When the bus finally pulled up and the driver opened the door, I could hear little-girl voices calling joyfully, "Genevieve! Genevieve!" Her very best friend in the whole world was waiting for her, along with two other little girls she knows, one from preschool and one from the summer pre-K adjustment program.
Genevieve didn't cry. She didn't cling to my legs and sob and wail and refuse to get on the bus. I walked her up the steps, chatted for a second with the kindergarten bus driver who I know from two years ago when she drove Julia home from morning kindergarten at lunchtime, and watched Genevieve settle into the second seat next to her best friend. Four little faces smiled excitedly at me from behind the tall seat backs. Four little girls on the giant school bus, all friends. (Afternoon kindergarten is mostly the walkers. Our neighborhood is the only part of town with bus riders in the afternoon.) If they were nervous, it was OK, because they had each other. All four of them waved at Christopher and me as the bus pulled away -- four little faces in the front two bus windows.
As the bus drove off to round the corner and circle back behind the block to head down the road to school, I saw my friend -- Genevieve's best friend's mom -- down the street in her Jeep, waiting, ready to fall in line behind the school bus and follow it to school for the first day, as she did for her older child, Julia's classmate, two years ago when our firstborns were both starting kindergarten. That's when I cried just a little behind my sunglasses. It was such a relief to see her familiar car, to know exactly what she was doing, to wave all the way down half the block so she could tell that I knew, to realize that in this small town everyone looks after everyone else; you know all the kids on the kindergarten bus and your friends watch your babe as she gets off the bus at school just as they watch their own.
Within five minutes of the bus driving off, I had already left the house to run a solo errand. Because that's how stay-at-home moms with both kids in school roll, people.
Then I came back home to do all the work I planned to do this afternoon. Instead I uploaded and edited photos, created a Facebook album, read all my friends' Facebook posts about sending our children off to afternoon kindergarten, e-mailed a bunch of people, talked to two mom friends on the phone to check in on how our five-year-olds had done at drop-off, and wrote this post.
And now the school bus comes back home in one hour.
Dang! I have a feeling this is exactly how the year is going to go.
We survived it, you all! I sent my last baby off to kindergarten today, and I'm still standing, I'm not crying, and I'm just as distracted and behind on work as always. As my best local mom-friend said this morning, "The passage of time makes you sad if you think about it for too long." So the lesson is, don't think about it for too long.
Here's to a new era for this stay-at-home mom! I certainly hope I get more work done this year than I have today.