Milestones

Milestones

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Milestones

Milestones are those things you’re supposed to see coming from a long way off and be prepared for. My youngest child started first grade this week, which was a milestone I thought I was eager to reach. For sixteen years, I’ve been an at-home mom.

I clearly remember a day when I was nursing a baby, while making a toddler a sandwich, and trying to talk a frightened five-year-old down from the top bunk of his new bed. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. “If only I had some time to myself,” I wailed to a friend.

“Cindy, someday you’ll blink, and all the boys will be in school. Then you’ll have your time,” she said.

I must have blinked.

I wouldn’t trade my time at home with my sons for anything. I understand how fortunate I’ve been to have had this choice. The sacrifices my husband and I have made have been worth it.

However, there were days I couldn’t recall why I ever wanted to have children to begin with, much less be with them 24/7. There were weeks I envied the working moms on my block with their shiny briefcases, flawless makeup, and lunches at places other than Chuck E. Cheese. Months in which I longed to send my toddler off to school, preferably boarding school.

For years I fantasized about what I’d do when all the boys were in school. I dreamed of buying clothes with tags that said, “Dry Clean Only,” and longed for the time when I’d be able to finish a thought or a sentence. “Some day I’ll have a bigger life,” I’d say.

But bigger is not always better, and I found myself at the door of Sam’s classroom, unable to walk away. I’m not much of a crier, probably because I live with five guys, but my eyes grew suspiciously moist. Sam looked up and waved, as if to say, “You can go now.” Suddenly, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to leave him or have him leave me.

I know I’m not done parenting by any means. My teenagers don’t need me to cut the crusts of their sandwiches or help them blow their noses, but I’m still their chauffeur, calendar-keeper, and when they choose to speak, a listening ear. It’s time for me to embrace a new season of life, to reengage in a world that doesn’t revolve around snacks and naps.

This is my time—finally. I took one last peek at Sam, busily coloring at his desk. Slowly, I closed the door to his first-grade classroom. I patted my briefcase and checked my lipstick.

Milestones are often bittersweet. As I open the door to this new season of my life, I choose to savor the sweet portions and leave the bitterness behind.

Cindy Hval

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