I've always been a stay-at-home mom wannabe. It caught me by surprise - I expected to want to go back to work after my daughter was born, but as it turned out, that wasn't what I wanted at all. I thought that three months of maternity leave would be enough, but at the end of that time, I still wanted to stay at home and change the diapers of the child who napped much less often than she was supposed to and had stolen my heart more completely than I'd expected her to.
I'm fortunate to have a job which gives me summers off, though, so during the summer, I play at being a stay-at-home mom, for just about the same amount of time I had after Leah was first born. And, like most stay-at-home moms, I don't stay at home all that much. I run my daughter from camp to camp, to the library and to doctor's appointments, to the mall and to sleepovers. I try to find activities that will make the TV and computer less magnetic attractions, but the older my daughter gets, the more difficult that becomes.
Nearly thirteen years later, I still dread the end of summer the same way I dreaded the end of my maternity leave. And this summer in particular was filled with frequent reminders that my daughter is no longer only a few months old, but rather only a few months away from being a teenager.
Although she has been taller than me for two years, in previous summers, she has still treated me to frequent glimpses of my little girl. This summer, however, those glimpses have faded to mere glimmers, and have done so with very little warning. I've become profoundly aware that my no longer little girl is poised on the threshold of adolescence, and it's clear that moving forward is the only choice. And going back to school is one more step in that direction.
I know that as her mother - stay-at-home or otherwise - I need to let her go and wish her well, and so I'll do that...
...while watching from a safe and respectable difference.