Monday, August 27, 2012

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

As a stay-at-home dad, my only child's first day of kindergarten was almost surreal, a strange mix of emotions ranging from giddy exultation to moody navel-gazing. He's gone from this:

to this:

in what also seems simultaneously like a blink of an eye and an eternity. This parenthood gig is stranger than anyone would ever be able to make anyone else believe with just words. There's so much you can't know until you know it.

It was a grand day. Aerie worked from home so that she could be there for drop-off and pick-up. He was confident and excited and walked to his classroom with an elbows-up swagger that looked like this:

We hugged and kissed him and said our goodbyes. He shed no tears and was happy to see the back of us, but he didn't even mind all the pictures. Next year he almost certainly will. Aerie managed to hold off her tears until we were outside the school.

We came home and, of course, immediately posted pictures to Facebook, like all parents with kids in school. Then I ran a load of laundry while working on a database project. When I began to fold the laundry, including Thumper's clothes that seem simultaneously tiny and, compared to those little onesies of days gone by, huge. That was when the emotions finally caught up with me, sitting in the utterly silent house folding the little big man's clothes.

It was just as surreal how quickly the day flew by. I did too few chores, accomplished too few work objectives, and utterly relaxed through a pleasantly surprising (first-time!) acupuncture appointment, which added even more weirdness to the day. I tried it to see if it could help some of my allergies and respiratory difficulties, but when I mentioned some shoulder pain, the acupuncturist immediately resolved in about 30 seconds of manipulating needles in my shins the shoulder pain that physical therapy and 3 or 4 years of exercises have not been able to touch. I can raise my arms above my head without sharp pain in my shoulders for the first time in years. Because of needles in my shins. Weird.

Wait, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. End of an era and whatnot. I'm not sure what the future holds for a full-time stay-at-home dad who no longer has to watch a kid full-time. I'm not rushing back into the full-time workforce, though. Aerie and I agree that there is value to having me available, with an early afternoon school release and with all of the sick days, teacher work days, vacation days, and holidays that will come up over the course of the school year, and with the opportunities to volunteer at the school that will also arise. Timing has worked out well with some additional database projects appearing at just the right time through my part-time employer, and there may, with an extra stress on may, be some full-time employment opportunities for me on the horizon. So I'm staying put, biding my time, and waiting to see what happens.

But still, it does sort of feel like Thumper and I, we're walking into the sunset on this whole grand stay-at-home dad adventure.


Mike said...

I agree with staying available. You guy will need someone around for the bio-shock to the system and the days off of school.

Coverage for days like that is hard to come by.

Anne McQ said...

Congrats, Daddy (and Mom and Thumper!). Is it strange that I got a lump in my throat, too? It seems like yesterday I was congratulating you on his birth! So now, friends, hold on to your hats, and make sure you're buckled in, because these school years? Holy SH*T, they fly by! Take lots of pictures, keep writing it down. I sometimes look back at posts from the beginning of my blog and can't remember stuff until I read it again! Big hugs to all of you - and ice cream. The first day of school deserves ice cream all around!

Greg Moyle said...

*sigh* I thought it was hard watching my kids go off to school. Now I have to deal with the emotions of everyone else's kids to? I got to get off this internet thing....

She Said said...

I'm curious how three days in is going for you? I'm struggling a bit. Even though I told myself I'd give myself the first week to just "play", I'm feeling like I should be doing more. More, more, more... *sigh*

I, Rodius said...

I wish I'd given myself the first week to play. I feel like I'm running around like crazy and accomplishing even less than before. Though I am getting more paid work done than before, and paid is always good. Tomorrow morning, though, after swimming to prepare for the Trirock Triathlon, I'm going to stand in line at Franklin's, a local favorite a friend works at. I've been dying to try it.

Trifecta said...

It's wild how much he still resembles the baby picture. Sweet moments. My eldest just started and has a bit of a swagger, too. Where do they get it from?

I, Rodius said...

I choose to believe, Trifecta, that the confident swagger is a result of fine parenting!

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