Back to school...

The children started school yesterday. My baby is officially in Kindergarten. I am officially a free woman. Ready to get back into career mode after a twelve-year hiatus. While I will never stop mothering I now have 8 hours a day to dedicate to me, myself and I... and it is a lovely feeling! I've been waiting for this day, it seems, for nearly twelve years.

Yes, I know that seems a rather harsh thing to say. While I have loved raising my children it has been difficult, trying and exhausting. No one told me how difficult it would be. No one told me how exhausting it would be. No one told me how trying it could be. I am not sure I would have listened, but I might have tucked that information in the back of my head somewhere to knock around with all the other information that has gotten stored and lost over the years.

When you have a job or a career you can walk away from it at the end of the day. You can't do this with children who come home with injuries or sick or have nightmares in the middle of the night. You can't give up and turn your backs on them. You may opt to mentally block out their incessant whining and fighting, and watch as they learn to try to resolve matters on their own. But you cannot walk away from them. Some days are better than others. Some days are immensely rewarding filled with pleasure and pride.

And there are days that will test your strength and courage. There are days when you want to throw in the towel but you can't because no one will ever do as good a job as you do. And no one will ever be able to pick up the pieces where you have left off.

We had an awful, horrific experience with head lice recently. I have no idea where we got it or who gave it to us. One child got it and spread it to the other two. And spread it to me. By the time we noticed it we were all affected. I figure we picked it up in the middle of the summer. Perhaps mid-July? Of course by the time I noticed the endless head-scratching and started scratching myself it was too late.

An ordinary day becomes so very unordinary. I spent between 6-7 hours a day for 8 days trying to rid heads and house of these critters. Sheets had to be washed daily. Rooms had to be washed daily. Beds had to be stripped and made daily. Heads had to be washed and nit-picked daily. That process took 3 hours in itself. And I had to treat myself without being able to reach and see certain spots.

Admittedly this caused a couple of breakdowns on my behalf. I was on my own in this. And as much as I wanted to run or close my eyes and pretend that our situation really didn't exist, I couldn't. And so on Saturday evening I cracked. Behind the closed doors of my bathroom with the hair dryer on high while the rest of the house was asleep I cracked. There is only so much one person can handle. And I suppose had only one child been affected it would have been that much easier.

In the days and nights that followed I became a lice expert. I Googled every bit of information on these critters that I could... every treatment from pesticide to natural... every picture... everything. I became mildly obsessed at removing these annoying but harmless creatures...

I tried RID. Didn't work.
I tried Denorex and Tea Tree Shampoo.
Didn't work.
I tried Listerine. Might have worked.
I tried Nix. Worked.
I was thisclose to soaking the kids heads in olive oil.
I have no idea how much time and money was spent in ridding these creatures. I still need to check for them and will need to treat the heads again to prevent their return.
Should they return, send me to the nuthouse please!

So, this post was about to be all about fall and starting back to school and refocusing on myself and my career. But it took a path of it's own. The keys on my laptop had something else to say. It was more about motherhood. Because in the end we are all mothers and this will never stop.

We think about our children even when we don't realize that we are doing so. We love our children in ways that cannot be expressed -- in ways that only mothers know -- in ways that you know only after having given birth...
We look out for our children and teach our children. We want them to grow and be good and kind and decent people. We want them to give back to society and be successful. We want them to learn and flourish and learn from their mistakes, sometimes. Mistakes are important. In school and in life. They help us to become better and stronger. I encourage mistakes.

Yesterday Rebecca called me to tell me that she had forgotten her gym bag. Was I home? Could I run it down to her? I felt horribly. She packed it over a week ago before school even started. But I was not home. I was out and about. And it was probably a good thing. I can't keep running to their aid forever either. But I did tell her that it would be OK. That it was a simple oversight. And I told her that I loved her. Because in the end that's what counts the most with our children. Isn't it?

Every year, on the first day of school I take pictures. It started off with one child, then two and then three. Yesterday was our first day back. No one cooperated. Can you feel the sibling love? These are just too funny not to share...

Back packs replace sandy beach chairs...

(Alexander turned 5 the day before school started. Click here to see his awesome -- if I may say so myself -- peanut butter-Smores-influenced Birthday cake fit for a hero!)