Back to school.
The house is eerily quiet.
It’s like I’ve never had children.
All the madness around chasing them to ‘be careful’, to eat, to sleep, to poop in the right place, to not eat the cat food, was a long, tiring dream.
That’s what it must feel like to be old – when your kids leave you and don’t need you anymore.
Lucky for those who don’t have kids.
They don’t have to go through the separation anxiety.
My husband, who takes our daughter to kindergarten, calls up every morning to cry over the fact that she just pulls away from his embrace and heads straight for the toys and her friends without shedding a tear for ‘daddy’.
I end up having to sooth him.
“It’s ok, honey. She loves you. She’s just fed up with us and wants to play with those her age and size. Go to work now. She’ll be back before you know it.”
I realise that the ‘crazy’ period of looking after our babies (0 to 18 years, more or less) is just a tad long, too short.
Then vanishes, just like it came, leaving nothing but resonance of screams and laughter in the walls, a truck-load of broken toys, and stains on the carpet.
School is a preparation for the parents, not for the kids.
It tells us, “they’re on your station just for a little while. You’d better be prepared for the moment when their ‘train’ comes and they depart forever.”
Yesterday was my son’s first day at kinder, too.
I went to pick him up lunchtime but the school gates weren’t opened, yet.
So, I had to wait outside with all the other anxious mothers.
Some were holding toddlers, newborns, handbags, groceries, or all four.
All of them (the mothers, not the groceries) were talking, making noise, gesturing, talking, talking, talking, one over another, in unison, interrupting each other, ceaselessly, nervously.
What are they finding to talk about so much, I’ve always wondered?
Romney vs. Obama?
Venezuela’s upcoming elections?
Some of the mothers looked like celebrities – dressed up in halter-necks, high heels, sunglasses, make-up, loud laughter…the whole package.
Others looked unkempt, uncombed, stressed. These are also the ones likely to carry all four things I mentioned earlier (another toddler, a newborn, some groceries, and a handbag).
I stood there quietly with my in-between appearance and large belly, blinking nervously and thinking about my son, the blog, my book, the Zone, my new research paper, the half-cooked lunch for the kids, my daughter to be picked up next, and the whole lot that was waiting for me to pick up, feed, clean, wash, iron, write, edit, research, upload, publish, finish.
And then, a tiny short fella appeared and opened the big, metal, school gates.
I think the force coming from the Mother Crowd helped with the opening, or perhaps there was no tiny short fella to open the big metal school gates to begin with, because after the storm of Mother Crowd entered the school premises, I saw nothing of him no more.
The rush of sweat, nerves, and chatter that was Mother Crowd, with me following in her dusty footsteps, entered into the school building but a tiny rope with a yelling label “WAIT” was spread across the main staircase and stopped us a second time.
Mother crowd and I had to wait some more.
Silence ensued the hallway.
There were still 5 minutes for the school bell to go off.
“Ahhh”, a chorus gasped and a pair of eyes rolled.
The nervous buzzing and chit-chatting resumed in a cloud of mouth odour, baby burps, and breast milk.
The mother crowd was waiting for the final gong.
And then it rang.
The bell went off like an Olympic gun at a race track setting all participants to run off for their lives.
Breasts were flying, toddlers were toddling on their mothers’ shoulders, uniformed kids started popping out of the classrooms like bugs running away from a bug repellent.
female flesh, hair, perfume, shouting and ever louder chatter invaded the building, the corridors, my head.
The mother crowd isn’t a beast to play with.
Stay aside because there’s nothing stopping her for too long.
She wants to get to her kids because her life is that – complaining when they’re screaming in her ears all day long, and mourning in the hours when they’re not.
School is a good preparation for the rest of a mother’s life.
School isn’t just for kids.
Enjoy your time alone, moms!
We’d all better get used to it.