Friday, August 27, 2010

Goodbye. Have fun. Please come back soon.

School started this week for Washington, DC's public schools. And as my only child takes his first taste of formal education, I’m split between sharing his cautious excitement and my desire to be alone. “Yes, Love, you’ll have fun at school and make lots of friends. Yes, of course, I'll miss you terribly ... er, but right now I have an office space to organize."

Very split indeed.

I was expecting this. With the exception of the occasional play group, a few concerts, one wedding and a four-day solo vacation in Miami, I’ve been with him continuously for nearly five years. (My lovely mother who had seven children and stayed home with all of us always laughs at this.) Even during my weekend gig at a neighborhood farmer's market, I'm often corralling him or sharing a homemade gourmet popsicles. He's been my museum-hopping buddy. My co-conspirator in all things silly. At times, perhaps my nemesis.

Excepting chocolate morsels, the start of school is what the term bittersweet was made for. Memories of nursing, first steps and first words wash over me as I return to my apartment without him by side. It's quiet. A little too quiet, as he likes to say. He's really funny, I realize. The tears come easily. And then they go. I have a list of projects as long as my arm. On his first day of school I redecorate the dining/office space, upending bookcases, moving furniture.

The second day, I exercise. A lot. On the third I write. I write uninterrupted. This is amazing. I can do whatever I want.

And I don't have to feign excitement over Candy Land or negotiate to play some other game. Any other game. Connect Four? Chutes and Ladders? Trouble? Anything but his beloved Candy Land. I hate Candy Land.

Don’t say the word “hate” mommy, he would remind me if he were here. My moral compass.

For those without children, just imagine the first morning after finishing an all-consuming five-year project. Or for my theater friends, imagine saying goodbye at the closing night party. How much time do you use to decompress? Or do you just jump right into something new? I guess everyone's different. I haven't written for my blog in months and selfishly blame my son even though I could've woken up at 5 am to write like J.K. Rowlings did while penning her way into Richer Than God status. I'll have time when he's at school, I reasoned. Well, now he's there. Here I go. No more excuses. Any minute. I wonder what he's doing right now. 8:45 am to 3:15 pm certainly is a long day. He's not even five.

I need some time to focus and get a new routine going. That's it. A routine. Brilliant. Armed with one of those I'll be able to regain my Chinese fluency which will decidedly be a part of my "real job" again someday. A real job. I'll use this newly-acquired time to reshape my career. Most people, parents or not, hit that point. For this I don't need a Life Coach. I need a time-out. A very long time-out. When my son was home, I would try to commit enough Bad Decisions, usually cursing, to get a lengthy time-out. But he always granted me clemency not because he's forgiving but because a time-out for me, albeit amusing, only meant playing by himself. So, now is my chance. For reflection, I mean. Not for cursing like a sailor although that would be fun too. I could also do yoga without someone crawling under my Downward Dog. I could curse while doing yoga to really confuse the Universe.

I could blare Queen and tap dance which will, luckily, not disturb my work-from-husband in the least as he is extremely tolerant and is also slightly hearing-impaired from 400 loud rock-n-roll concerts. Speaking of my husband, he keeps reminding me that now during the day we'll both be home. Alone.

He must miss playing Scrabble as much as I.

But there's no time for board games when I have a SteamPunk corset to design. It's to be versatile enough to wear with skirts or jeans, functional enough to hold money and a cell phone and forgiving enough to not require the removal of a rib or damage internal organs making it a hit with women from all walks of life worldwide.

Or maybe I’ll just clean my office. And as I'm doing that I'll think about what fun game I can play with my son when he gets home. Anything but Candy Land.