“It’s sad when the little ones go back to school”

My mother said this to me today. I quickly reminded her how ecstatic she was when we, as children, would return to school at the end of the summer. My mom stayed at home with us, while my dad worked full-time. She had a part-time cleaning job on Wednesday evenings and Sundays to give us the extra cash on hand needed for vacations, and the things beyond necessities.

I remember the lead up to summer vacation, and how my mother made it clear to us there was to be no lazy days of summer in her house. Our first day of summer, we were given a daily chore list. This list had to be completed each day before we were to do anything else. These tactics are required when you have four children, as my mother did. Of course, each year, we’d protest our lists, always more challenging than the list given to us in prior years, because as we grew, so did our abilities. With all the activities we had and plans with friends, we quickly moved past our whining and would get straight to work in the morning. My older sister and I, the closest in age of the four of us, would have competitions, who would finish first.

Once we were released from service, we left the house. It didn’t take long to understand that if you hung around my mom too long, she’d find something for you to do. “I’m bored.” is not a thing to say to my mother.

But even with my mother’s brilliant strategy, at the end of every summer, she was ready for us to get back into our school routine, where she was left in peace by herself to do the work in which she took such pride. No more screaming kids, yelling because we were arguing, or excited, or just plain obnoxious.

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This same woman just told me “It’s sad when the little ones go back to school.”

Really? I couldn’t help myself, but needed to point out that this was not her view as a mother, and obviously were the rantings of a grandmother. Of course, she’s not silly, she can recognize that her stance on the subject has changed. I can understand how unsettling it is that her baby (my younger sister) is now 30 years old, and not only that, but her grandchildren are growing so tall that it can be difficult to reconcile that they are the same little cherubs that were underfoot, not that long ago. They grow up fast.

I’m sure we are all glad to see the return of the usual routine. But she does have a small point. I have 4 children, all boys, ages 16, 13, 10 and 1-year-old. We are expecting another child next year in March. Where does the time go? It’s hard to imagine that my babies are getting so big, and with the start of a new school year, they are passing another milestone.

It is easier for me to share my mother’s new viewpoint, because unlike her, I’m not home with them all day. I go office to my nice (quiet) air-conditioned office, and my husband stays with them. Maybe I should ask my husband if he’s sad to see the kids go back to school?

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