This month, my youngest child will finish elementary school. While we're all more than ready to see him move on up to the middle school, I face the bittersweet end of an era in my life as a mom. You all know that I work full-time from home on the day job. What that means is not all that much happens around here during the day. In the morning, the elementary bus picks up at the end of my front walk and then drops off in the afternoon. For the seven school years we have lived in this house, my day has been framed by those pick ups and drop offs. The bus monitor has faithfully fed biscuits first to Consuela and Roscoe and now to Brandy. In fact, when Consuela died, Dan joked that maybe now Bernice, the elderly monitor who has seen my kids safely to school for seven years and provides AWESOME dog biscuits, could afford to go out to dinner once in a while.
I remember our first year in this house, the only school year my kids were ever in the same school. They squabbled daily over whose turn it was to stand on the rock that used to sit at the end of our sidewalk where the bus picks them up. Last fall when we had our front yard remodeled, Emily asked if I was really going to get rid of the bus rock. I admit that gave me pause, but we did get rid of the big monstrosity! After all, once his sister wasn't there to squabble with anymore, Jake lost interest in standing on the bus rock.
My school mornings begin at 7:30 when I get Jake up and moving for the 8:30 bus pick up. Dan handles the early shift with Emily, which these days consists of a little bit of yelling when she runs late. But otherwise, she pretty much takes care of herself in the morning and has for some time now. Next year, Jake moves to the early shift with Dad, who will drop him at school on his way to work. This gives Jake an extra half hour in the morning that my tortoise desperately needs.
So where will that leave me? Without a kid to put on a morning school bus for the first time in 10 years. I make jokes about what will get me out of bed in the morning if I don't have a kid to put on a bus or a boss expecting me in an office at a certain time. Of course my job will still beckon as it does every day and I will get up and get to it, but my days will begin much differently without that hour with Jake. I'd be lying if I said I won't miss that one-on-one time with him, even if most of it is about me saying HURRY UP will you? Even in 5th grade I have to remind him every day to brush his hair AND his teeth and wash his face with something other than spit on the ends of his fingers. Can you see why I'm concerned about Dad taking over the early shift?
In the 12 years I've worked from home, summer vacation has been the toughest time of the year for me. This year, however, I'm really looking forward to it as both my kids have had their struggles in school this year. We all need a break. But as June 22 approaches, I'm acutely aware of the ending of a era. When you're in the midst of these school years, it feels like they will go on forever. And then you wake up one day and your oldest is in high school and your "baby" is heading for middle school and you know it won't last forever. I'll miss those bus pickups and so will Brandy. But most of all, I'll miss my mornings with Jake.