Years ago we made the decision that, as long as I was happy to do so, I would stay home with our children until they started school.
Two weeks ago, after seven and a half years of stay at home mothering, I experienced my first day of having ALL my children (even little B) in school/preschool/daycare at THE SAME TIME.
Here's how it went down.
Two hours after I left my house at eight in the morning, I had finally dropped of my last little charge. Only then did I sigh my relief and turn my thoughts to "what will I do? I am free!" I calculated how much time I had before I needed to start the whole two hour long pick up cycle and felt a little deflated that I only had four and a half hours, and not the Whole Free Day I had imagined.
No matter, four and a half hours was more than I had ever consistently had before. Emboldened by pure possibility, I decided I would go see a movie, by myself, at eleven in the morning!
First I ducked into a favorite op-shop and was rewarded with the find of a gilt-framed mirror that I have been hunting for some time. Score! So, with my purchase in the trunk, I was off to the movies.
I can't believe people actually go to the movies at eleven a.m. It's true! I saw some people there! Grandmas, mostly, but the theatre wasn't empty like I thought it would be!
I treated myself to a snack of overpriced fruit salad, and even ducked into a shop to buy myself a cute and cheap sweater since the aircon in the shopping center was set on "freeze".
So, with fruit consumed and my snug sweater keeping my toasty, I settled in to watch The Impossible, the true-life survival story of one family in the Boxing Day tsunami.
I'll come back another day to write more about the movie because there were some poignant themes I would like to explore, but for now I'll just say that it was intense! Typically I would spend great portions of that kind of movie with my head in hubby's shoulder, and plugging my ears. I don't do well with suspense, or graphic injuries, or nasty vomits... Instead I had to occupy myself with browsing FB at different point to carry my through.
I exited the theatre and picked up an overpriced lunch to eat in the car. I was driving the rattling loan car from the mechanic (have I even told you the car drama from the first week of school? no, I haven't.), I was distracted, and listening to Heidi Durrow's The Girl that Fell From the Sky, and without realizing it, I stuck my parking ticket in the credit card slot instead of the ticket slot.
You, like the incredulous guy on the other end of the "help" buzzer might say "You're kidding, right?" But no, I really did.
Not to let a little thing like that distract me from the awesomeness that was 4.5 hours of solitude, I buzzed off in my little hatchback (with three car seats across the back), to check out another favorite antiques/collectables boutique. By that time the wind was getting cold and whippy, and the sky was getting dark.
I sat in the parking lot at preschool, finishing my expensive sandwich, and listening to my book, before running in to get Finch early, before the rain hit. We continued on to school, where we were early again, but we couldn't stay ahead of the rain. With my umbrella in my car at the mechanic, (who am I kidding, my umbrella was at home in the cupboard where is always is) I ended up soaked to the skin trying to get all the seat belts buckled for all the kids in that tiny hatchback.
Traffic was gridlocked in the pounding rain, but eventually we arrived at daycare, the third and final pickup at the end of my "day" of freedom. We all got wet running into daycare, and when we came out I had to stand in the rain again, trying to maneuver everyone into too-tight car seats. Finally, dripping, I heaved myself triumphantly into the driver's seat, happy to head home.
I turned the key in the ignition of the little loan car that could, and nothing happened. I turned it again, ditto. I let it sit for a bit before trying again. Nothing. After fifteen minute of trying in vain, I got all the kids out of the car, back through the rain, back into daycare, and called the mechanic.
Long story short, (no, it is still long isn't it?) the mechanic took 45 minutes to arrive, then it took another 45 minutes to make the usual 10 minute trip home. I had left the theatre triumphant at 2:30 p.m. and arrived home, soaked, sneezing, and dumbfounded at 6 p.m.
I came down with a horrible cold, and that is the story of the day I dreamed of for seven and a half years. Good thing I get a do-over once a week. They must get better!