Chocolate/Vanilla Swirl

Both my kids will be in school in this fall. This is both sad and happy. Two days ago was my birthday.  I didn’t want to do anything special. Just our little domestic routines with maybe a nice alfresco lunch with my husband.  And we did.  But one thing I realized when I was writing that day was, oh THIS is the age I will be when both kids go to school. It’s 42. Here I am at that very age.  When Iris was a newborn and I sat in that skinny hospital bed, getting to know her face, I remember doing the math in my head.  Ok, so I’ll be 42 when both kids go off to school.  When you have a newborn in your arms that feels about as real as someone saying to a college grad, “Ok so what are your plans for retirement?”  I didn’t really believe the day would come.
But now here I am. I keep saying  lasts to myself, as in: This is the last day of having Iris home with me full time. And today she wanted to take a rest. (It’s Ace’s last full day of school). As I read her a book on her bed, I said to myself:  this is the last nap she’ll take in her preschool years.  (I’m one of those people who tortures myself by realizing ALL the feelings).
I’ve done every kind of employment situations as a mom these 8 years.  Worked full-time with my child in full time daycare. (First parent to drop him off, last to pick him up.)  I’ve done part-time with one in school and the other in daycare. Then I’ve free-lanced from home and used the YMCA childcare literally as often as they’d allow.  Every year of being a mom has required a little different arrangement.   Every arrangement has had it’s good and bad. 
I realize I’m not in uncharted waters here. Every mom has done this too…wrestled with the dueling emotions of glee that her all her children will be in school full time and grief that the years of small children underfoot are over.
At its core it’s a selfish grief.  I’m grieving that I don’t have little ones any more.  If I have little ones than maybe I’m also still young?
In my journals stacked on my nightstand I eek out a few sentences sometimes that tell even more: I hate getting older. I hate that this is happening to me. I’m so deeply sad and happy that my children will both be in school.
I don’t know how to separate the sad and happy.
Maybe it’s like this: I bought (horror of horrors) my kids ice cream cones from McDonald’s the other day.  They both thought they wanted chocolate and vanilla swirl.  When I handed Ace his cone, he looked at the swirl and announced, “Actually, can you take out the vanilla parts? I’d rather just eat the chocolate.”
I laughed.  “Sorry, bud. That’s not really possible.  The ice cream is too soft and the flavors have already started melting into each other.”
And that’s how I feel about my kids both being in school.  My heart is too soft for this. And the sad and happy are melting into each other. So that I don’t know how to taste one without the other.

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