Back-to-school time on Facebook is pretty much my most favorite time of the year on Facebook. It’s so fun to see how all of my friends’ children have changed over the summer. I adore seeing everyone’s kids all squeaky clean and polished up for the new year. Hair is combed, shoes are tied, backpacks are still in one piece. It’s great to see how happy everyone looks before the devastating realization of daily attendance sinks in.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend proudly posted a back-to-school picture of her two kids to Facebook. She mentioned how she was looking forward to getting back to a routine with school finally in session and how exciting it was to have a little time to herself again after a busy summer. Basically, neatly summarizing how most of us moms feel when late August rolls around.
But, because Facebook’s fine print apparently states that all comments posted must be completely ridiculous, an acquaintance of my friend stated in response to my friend’s lovely photograph how sad it made her to see so many moms so eager to send their children away to school. How upsetting that forced separation seemed. How the distance would just be too much for her. How she just couldn’t ever imagine being apart from her babies. How the whole prospect just made her want to cry.
My thoughts when I read her comment can best be summarized as:
I mean, I’m my kids’ biggest fan but even I’m all, “SMELL YA LATER” when the first day of school rolls around.
I don’t seem to be built with the same genetic code that makes other mothers super emotional over big milestone moments. I can sympathize with their feelings and I absolutely don’t begrudge them their sentiments (of course not!) but I just don’t share them. I am always happy to see my children growing and maturing and learning how to empty the dishwasher all on their own because mama deserves a little help at this point.
Sure, I shed tears over plenty of things: certain episodes of The Good Wife, a particularly delicious dinner that I didn’t have to prepare, the day that my youngest child learned to wipe her own behind, when they sing It is Well at church. My heart isn’t made of stone. But, I absolutely never get worked up over my own children’s increasing independence. I am completely on board with them growing up. I guess I just pragmatically assume that was the goal of having them to begin with.
So, when the boys headed back to school a couple of weeks ago, I was excited! The first day of classes I was all:
Then, I was kind of tired from the dancing so I gave myself the rest of the week to lounge around, in pajamas, exhibiting questionable personal hygiene, while eating a large amount of nachos because, well, nachos are really tasty and this past summer was really long.
THEN, week two arrived. I took a shower, hopped off the nacho express and decided to do something with my life. Task number one: The Great Back-to-School Purge wherein I eradicate ten weeks of accumulated summer detritus from Henry and Charlie’s bedroom when they are not around to voice opposition. I grabbed one of those outdoor garbage bags, donned protective headgear and headed in to clean out and organize every corner of their shared space. I threw out old summer camp loot, VBS crafts, torn up magazines, broken army figurines and an alarming number of raisins(?). Then, I set about to switch some furniture around to make more space for Lego pieces. Because it’s all Lego all of the time around here.
In rearranging the boys’ room, it made sense to weed out some of the older toys that they no longer play with. I dragged bins out from the closet, bins out from under the bunk bed, bins out from a couple of dark corners and piled everything into the center of the room in an attempt to create some sort of a donate/recycle/trash sorting system.
Only, I didn’t get very far.
One of the bins I found contained all of the big Tonka trucks we’ve purchased or been gifted over the past decade. There are garbage trucks and fire trucks and tow trucks and even a crane and no one plays with them anymore. They never come out of their bin. They have been occupying precious space on a shelf in the boys’ closet for more than two years now.
Something about seeing those trucks for the first time in such a long time, remembering how the boys used to play with them non-stop, remembering how they would drag them all over the house, scooting around on their knees, leaving tracks in the carpet, making fire engine noises, picking up pretend garbage, remembering how many times I tripped over them, kicked them in frustration. Something about those trucks and thinking about those baby boys and their little baby hands with their baby knuckle dimples, thinking about the years that have passed and how big they’ve grown and how Henry will be in MIDDLE SCHOOL next year and how everything is changing and, oh, my, suddenly I was all, what is this moisture coming from my eyes?
It had to have been their dusty room. I certainly didn’t spend the better part of an afternoon crying over the sunrise/sunset moment of finding a bin of oft-neglected Tonka trucks. Other moms do that, other moms on Facebook. The emotional ones. Yep, it was definitely the dust.
Then, the boys arrived home from school, tossed their man-sized shoes all over the floor, started eating everything in sight and retreated to their shockingly clean room to fight over Legos. They were less than receptive when I asked them to please stop growing while hugging them uncomfortably tight.
I don’t even know what is happening to me anymore because I couldn’t bear to part with the trucks. I tucked them all neatly into a trunk in our bedroom. I don’t imagine they’ll get much use but no one is allowed to give them away.
And then, last night, I snuck into the boys’ room after they had gone to bed just to watch them sleep. It’s kind of smelly in there because boys, it turns out, are super stinky but it was nice to be able to stare at them when they couldn’t yell at me to “stop being weird.”
My robot interior appears to be crumbling.