Monday, October 22, 2007

A pocketful of…mom

By Karrie McAllister

I play this little game every morning. It’s kind of a race against fate. The object? I must wake up early, feed the dogs, get the paper, make coffee, drink coffee, eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and assemble two book bags before the sound of grouchy morning feet come stomping down the stairs demanding chocolate milk and cartoons.
The prize? Serenity.
Needless to say, I rarely win. But that doesn’t stop me from setting the alarm clock early every school day. Someone asked me why I don’t just put on some sweats and throw the kids into the car, and while my answer that day was “because I don’t like sweat pants,” now that I think about it, it’s really about the preparation for the day. I want to make sure that I have everything as ready as possible for my kids before sending them off to school, even if it means a little less sleep for myself.
And while I really enjoy my morning coffee, it’s packing those bags that gets me out of bed in the morning.
For my preschooler, I make sure he’s got his book bag. If it’s his snack day, I check to make sure we’ve got the right amount of napkins, cups, and goodies. I take the strings, cars, and make-shift guns out of the pockets of his coat, and line things up by the door.
For my kindergartner, I double-check her homework folder. I make sure I haven’t forgotten a surprise piece of candy in her lunch. I write out sweet little notes that I’m not sure she can read, and tuck them in her backpack and her lunch box. I know that she counts on me to remember these things to get her through her day. Once everything is set, I place her things by the door, too.
But for all of the packing and prepping they have come to expect, there’s one more thing I slip into their pockets before we walk out the door.
Myself.
A friend told me the other day that even though her son is older, she still goes through his day in his back pocket, even though he doesn’t know she’s there. “It’s 11:00,” she said, “he’s taking a chemistry test.”
I didn’t realize it until she put it into those terms, but I do the same thing. Since my son has started preschool and my daughter has started kindergarten, I feel like I’m right there with them.
At 10:30, I grab a snack because I know that’s what my son is doing.
At 11:30, my stomach growls a little because I know that’s when my daughter eats lunch. And then at noon I wonder if that boy is still chasing her around the playground, and which one of her friends is coming to her rescue that day. At 1:00 on Tuesdays I know she’s headed up to music class, and that she’s probably happy because it’s one of her favorite things.
Yes, my clock checking is a little neurotic, but I just can’t help myself. I suppose it’s because I miss them terribly.
Being a stay-at-home-mom, I’ve spent the last five years pouring everything I could into my children. I have driven them back and forth to the library and the park more times than I could count. We’ve gone through boxes and boxes of crayons, markers, paints, and glue. We’ve read stories, played games and built forts, and now it feels so strange to just stop doing those things, step back, and let my children go.
So instead of totally letting go, I pack myself in their back pocket, just like my friend does with her son.
I don’t know how long it will last, or if they’ll ever realize that lump they sit on all day is really their mother. But for the time being, I’ll keep doing what I do-- getting up early to make my coffee, and to pack lunches, book bags, and back pockets.

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