By the day after Labor Day, everyone will be safely back into a school routine.
Each summer, when August rolls around, our thoughts always turn to Back to School. When the kids were younger we would start thumbing through catalogs looking at new backpacks, lunch boxes and clothes. We would go to Target with the supply list in hand and try to get all of the required notebooks, pencils, pens, assorted other desk needs as well as the requested Kleenex, paper towels and hand sanitizer for each class room. Every attempt was made to do this shopping as soon as the list was available to avoid the mess and mayhem of the over crowded supply section as the first day of school approached–some years we were successful!
As the kids got older, the lists got shorter since we usually had an abundance of supplies that hadn’t been used the year before. On the last day of school, they would come home with a bag of unused pens, pencils, sharpies, markers, scissors, paper and spirals that would get shoved into the basement closet and dragged back out in August to be recycled in the upcoming year. Once they were in high school, the supply list didn’t exist, they were on their own to determine what supplies they needed and they would pick them up when necessary. Talk about supply list liberation!
As the years went by, it became easier for me to say good-bye as they headed off to school, and I even caught myself breathing a sigh of relief. I love summer and the relaxed schedule, but eventually it’s time to get everyone back into a routine. For years that meant earlier to bed and earlier to rise, regular meal times and reconditioned study habits. Now, with Thomas about to start his sophomore year in college and Abigail moving to a new city to begin graduate school, it means making piles in the living room with dorm room and apartment needs, wardrobes for warm weather and the change of season, laptops and study aids, fans, mini- fridge and all the other assorted items they cant live without.
This year, by the beginning of August I was ready for them to go. I was ready to have my quiet house back. I will not miss the multiple baskets of laundry stacked high in varying states of cleanliness, tripping over the huge shoe that has been kicked off right in the middle of the door way, my favorite beach towel missing because someone else decided to swipe it, the wet bath towels strewn around on the floor, the egg skillet left in the sink and the refrigerator and pantry constantly being raided.
There is a pile of crumbs and a dirty knife in front of the toaster. Every. Damn. Day! To be fair, they are in charge of their own laundry and bathroom, and supposedly the egg pan and dirty dishes, but none is done on a schedule or with a thoroughness that I would like.
I love having my kids home but by last spring my husband and I had started to enjoy having the house to ourselves. I never thought I would say that. It seemed impossible to imagine a life that didn’t have them home every night, but we learned to love it! We splurged on a new couch that fits just the two of us. We like to fix our dinner on a tray and eat in front of the TV with our 2 big dogs curled up at our feet. I like coming in the back door and not tripping over a discarded shoe. I like reaching for my favorite bag of potato chips and knowing that it will be there. I like finding the house exactly the way that I left it, whether it is dirty or clean. Somehow, two huge and hairy dogs can’t compete with two grown children when comes to leaving a messy trail.
I’ve surprised myself by liking the empty nest and I look forward to missing my kids again and counting the days until they will be home for thanksgiving weekend!