School is back in, which usually means it’s time to get back into a productive routine. But for the first time in eighteen years, I don’t have to take anyone to school. My daughter is a junior in high school and drives herself. So consequently, the beginning of the school year doesn’t mean I have to get organized. I don’t even have to get out of bed at any particular time. In fact, the only thing that woke me up this morning was my daughter yelling good-bye on her way out the door. And though I used to fantasize about how much I’d get done when my schedule was no longer defined by the school day, this week has been a total flop. I’ve accomplished less this week than any other week this summer. The first two days I crawled right back into bed after my daughter left and slept another two hours.
I thought maybe I had a bug or something. But today I decided it could be depression.
I’ve been a mother for twenty-three and a half years. Caring for my children has always structured my day, even when I worked full-time. I’d get up, take a shower, get dressed and then wake up the kids. Once they were dressed, I’d give them breakfast. We’d be out the door before 7:30 so I could be at work by 8. I tried to make their mornings as relaxed as I could. I didn’t want my kids to have memories of me yelling “hurry up” all morning like I had of my own mother. But as they leisurely ate their cereal, I suppressed a tremendous sense of guilt. I worried that I wasn’t giving them enough time and that I was going to miss some big milestone while they were at day care. Things got easier once they started elementary school. My husband had a new job that made it possible for me to work part-time. I arrange my schedule so that I worked while the kids were in school. It was the best of both worlds. I didn’t have a lot time of writing back then. I believed I would be able to write more once I wasn’t bound by my kid’s school schedule. In many ways, that was true. But as recently as last year, I seemed to only hit my stride about the time I needed to leave to pick up my daughter from school. I looked forward to this school year so she could drive herself.
This past Monday morning, a group of parents, including dads dressed for work, waited with cameras for the school bus to pick up their children. I wanted to join them and celebrate the first day of school. But instead I took a few pictures of my daughter before she climbed in her car. As I watched her turn at the corner, the last thing I wanted to do was write.
I decided to give myself the rest of this week to settle into this part of motherhood. After all, she is my baby. But starting next Monday I’m back on track with a fresh set of writing goals for the 2012-2013 school year.