The Life of Bon: March 2023

Monday, March 13, 2023

All day kindergarten

 I put my five year old in all day kindergarten.

Fought for it.  Raised hell for it.  Cried shamelessly in front of the school secretary when she said it was just luck who got all day kindergarten and I said really there's no help for single parent homes, I'm doing this alone lady, I need help.  The school was adamant, we can't make any exceptions for special circumstances.  No one gets in for "hardship."

And then, a few weeks later, coincidentally, a spot opened up.

That's the story of how I fought tooth and nail for my five year old to be away from me from 8 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon five days a week and then not get to see him on Saturdays when he goes to his dad's.  

All day long he is gone from me.  I go to work.  I miss him.  He feels so little to be gone at school all day.  His dad is absent in so many ways, I am the one who loves him, nurtures him, teaches him, makes him feel seen and special, explains to him what this world is all about and how it works.  And now where am I?  Why am I working?  Why am I earning more money?  Why is there always more work but never more childhood?

All year I have had this emotion clumping around in the back of me.  I thought it was guilt.  Struggling with the guilt I feel for choosing to have him away from me all day.  It's too long for him.  He's too tired.  He wants to be with me. I want to be with him.

And then tonight it dawned on me. 

 It isn't guilt.  It's grief. 

I am not mourning something I think I took from him.  I am mourning what I think I took from myself.  Grieving the loss of time with my son, time just the two of us, hours and hours I will never get back.  Fruit bowls and memory games and morning snuggles and having him eat a corn dog next to me while I work.  Instead I rush him out the door early in the morning and he eats lunch with other five year olds.  I see him when he gets home, close to 3, tired and completely beat, the worst version of himself with nothing left to give his mom.

My son would not have lasting memories of being five and hanging out with just mom while his sister is in school.  I would have.  The trajectory of his life will be ultimately unaffected by all day or half day kindergarten.  But maybe mine would not have?

Trying to have compassion for myself and the place I was in a year ago when I made this decision, when I begged for the school to give Hugh the chance to go to all day kindergarten.  I have to work.  No one else is paying my bills.  Not seeing a way or a path for more time away from work, feeling scarcity and lack, not trusting that I could take more of a step away from the business, take some extra time for my son, and that I could still be ok.

The grief of missing time when he was five turns into the grief of missing time when he was four.  In three different preschools so I could work.  And that grief turns to missing time when he was three. And two. And one.  And a newborn.  How I went back to work when he was weeks old, left him with his father to take care of, when I wanted to take care of him instead.  His father got to be next to him all day, got to feed him and burp him, put him down for endless naps.

The grief of how I can't even remember him learning to walk because I was in the middle of deciding to get a divorce, too much trauma and sorrow to remember where and when he took those first steps, how he decided to be brave enough to dare to do this great big adventurous thing called walking.  The way I was already missing two and three day spurts with him when he was only not even two years old because he was an hour away from me at his dad's.  The way I had a dream he drown when he was three and I woke up sobbing and he was not in my home so I called his dad in the middle of the night, frantic, panicking, is my boy ok is my boy ok is my boy ok why is he not in my home with me?

Now my boy is six.  He lost his first tooth last week.  He is learning to read and ride a bike without training wheels.  He is growing.  His babyhood and toddlerhood is gone from me, and I am here, in the thick of his childhood.  

Praying that I won't miss anything more.