She’s Off to School… Now What?
For stay-at-home parents, the first day of school opens up a world of opportunities, challenges, and questions
I sat in an empty apartment with an infinite number of things to do and places to go. A lassitudinous silence had descended on my person — the calm was unsettling and tangible. The TV had been off for at least 15 minutes but I continued to stare dully at its subdued reflectivity. The neighborhood chattered away from the partially open balcony door, beckoning.
Nothing and everything dashed frenetically between my gut and head every 15 seconds.
The potential autonomy of this moment, however, was matched by a creeping dread. I could do anything and/or nothing. I could "Netflix and chill," thus achieving an even balance between both actions.
I could also keep sitting in silence. I deserved to do that, too. I was a free man — a free parent. I thought of the generations of mothers who came before and what they felt on this day. My child, the perpetual question engine, hadn’t been in school for an hour and already I felt lost.
It was 9:45 in the morning and the apartment was utterly still.
Parenting isn’t resume material
Rushing in to fill her absence was the reality that I was technically unemployed. Of course I was still the primary caregiver, but throughout the day I was on a long break from actual parenting.
At random, my long lost resume popped into my head. Where was it? I had no idea — hadn’t seriously looked at it in over three years. Couldn’t even remember which file was the most current. Would I have to reformat it to apply for different jobs? Could I add “responsible for the lives of others” and “successfully kept dangerous individual from harming themselves” without specifying why? No doubt I would need to download another template.
Stay-at-home parents can likely attest to this predicament. The first day of full-day school is a double-edged blade; it’s liberation pure and simple. You can, once again, start asking yourself what you’re going to do with your life. Unfortunately, the grace period doesn’t last forever.