I felt that not only did I need a break, but Braden needed the activity. Every day, in the middle of the day, we were confined to the house for two solid hours while Casey napped. It's during that time that I usually get my work done, and Braden being home didn't change that. As a result, he watched Toy Story 2 a ridiculous number of times (as in, every freaking day). I felt guilty about the reliance on the TV, but not enough to change it. After all, by that time of day I was usually out of energy and exhausted and regardless of if I had work to do, it was hard to muster up the energy to entertain him.
Like all new things Braden embarks on, I think I had more anxiety than he did on the day of his first day of camp last week. Eight full hours! Wouldn't he get tired? What if he got too hot? Too tired? Too thirsty? Would he make friends? Would he have fun? Who would reapply his sunscreen, specifically to that part in the nape of his neck that is so easy to miss? Who would help him put on his socks? Who would hug him if he was scared? As ready as I was for him to start, I found relinquishing control over my baby boy for eight solid hours to be nerve wracking.
He started camp last Monday. He did fine, as he always does. But me? I took it a little harder.
Despite my eagerness to get him off of my hands, I have found myself missing Braden this past week. I mean, really missing him. I see him in the morning, of course, and then the day goes by. I have Casey and we do activities and eat lunch and rest, and then at 4pm I pick Braden up again. By the time we get home, there's barely any time for playing before it's dinner, bath, and bed.
I miss my boy.
I realize this sounds ridiculous. Many parents, including my husband, and including myself before I quit my job, spend their days away from their child. They are fine with it, as I was. But being a stay at home mom has changed my sense of normalcy. Braden, for the past two and a half years, has been my constant companion. And apart from a weekend away here and there, eight hours in a day is the longest he has been away from me since I quit my job.
Eight hours is a long time.
I miss him nagging me. I miss him pushing my buttons. I miss his hugs and his laugh and his sense of humor. I miss his noise. I miss his constant presence. Casey does too. We are fine, of course, but it is an adjustment. A big one. I miss our days as a team of 3.
Braden starts school at the end of August, and it will be a full day program once again. In fact, for the rest of his life, until he leaves home, Braden will be in school for the better part of the day. I have known this, obviously. But until last week, I didn't feel it. And I certainly didn't expect to feel so sad about it.
The weird thing about parenthood is it's ever changing. You get used to one thing, and then BAM, it shifts, and you adjust to a new normal. Until the next new normal comes. As I become a more seasoned parent, I am realizing it's okay to mourn the end of one normal as you embark on a new one. The new one will be fine, and one that I eventually will mourn once it's over. But today - today I miss my baby boy. I miss him a lot.
I end this post in tears, which I didn't plan on! I find myself mentally shouting at myself - GET A GRIP, SHANNON! It's only camp, for God's sake! But the fact is, it's just the tip of an iceberg towards a growing independence for my boy, who I am so incredibly proud of. It's what I want for him - to go out there into the big world and find himself. To not spend every minute with me. To find other people to rely on and other people to bond with and ultimately, to not need me so much anymore.
But it leaves me so sad, in a bittersweet way. Where is the time going? Where did my baby go? Sometimes I feel like if I hug him tight enough, and long enough, he'll stay just like he is and never grow up.
But he has grown up. So much. And he just keeps on growing, and changing.
Two and a half years ago I left my job, in large part to spend my days with Braden. From this point on, the majority of his days will be spent elsewhere. That's okay, and it's exactly how it should be.But I miss him. And as a mom, I will probably never stop.