Today was Take Your Child To Work Day. My husband called me excitedly about a week and a half ago, wondering if he could bring the boys to work and we agreed that it would be a great experience for both of them. This morning, drop-off's were reversed and the day began.
It was a weird day in many ways. First, I dropped off Joshua, much later than usual. I did not have the two older boys with me. Although they are usually too asleep with their eyes open to be of much conversation (further proof that they are truly my children!), I missed having the warmth of their bodies accompanying me to work. There was hardly any traffic this morning, because the mothers and fathers of our metropolis had probably made arrangements with their bosses to come in a little later. Because I had no additional drop off's, I arrived early to work. And there were no children to greet me.
I typically have Physical Education first thing in the morning. My co-teacher and I have an "arrangement" of sorts with the P.E. coaches. Rather than haul the children and all their stuff up the stairs and try to beat the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance to make it to P.E. on time, the children just stay in their lines outside, are on time to class, and then we pick them up afterwards. Genius, I assure you. But this morning, we were expecting one student. And she was not there.
While we were the envy of just about every teacher in the school building, I felt more than a little out of sorts. It's not that I had planned to do anything extraordinary today and the plans had to be put on hold. It was just odd to be at school, on a school day, with no one to teach or watch.
Don't get me wrong. I caught up with paperwork and testing of other unfortunate students that had to be there today. But something was amiss.
At lunchtime, I usually see Matthew in the cafeteria, where we exchange a headshake and wink. Nothing. After school, I pick up Andrew from aftercare, when he jabbers about his day and whines about having to do homework. Nothing.
Silence on the way home; save for Bon Jovi, remnants of this weekend's concert, blaring on the stereo. It did little to put me back in normal mode. I had an appointment that I had to keep this early evening, so I really didn't have too much time to do anything wild like go window shopping by myself. I did manage to go to the nutritional supplement store and pick up a handful of supplements designed to help me move my tired arse in gear. This trip is usually rounded out by two elementary aged boys who whine and complain about having to be there, each other, and the homework that must be completed upon the arrival home.
It was the most quiet experience by far today.
As I paid for my purchases, I thought of when this silence is more of a permanent thing. Because the boys will be older and have their own activities to concern themselves with. When they are older and are perhaps living away at school. My heart ached.
I picked up Joshua. As I held his hand in the parking lot, I asked about his day. I waited for him to ask me where his brothers were. He never did. I think he was glad he didn't have to share me this afternoon.
I often wonder how each of my boys will see themselves outside of their relationship with their brothers.
Will Matthew always see himself as the older, more responsible one? Will he ever let go and just be silly, allow himself mistakes and forgive himself for them?
How will Andrew define himself when he is the oldest brother living at home? Will he ever break loose of the conflict within himself, being neither the oldest nor the youngest? Will he find his place in the world, making his own way and not living in his older brother's shadow?
How will Joshua react when he is the last one at home? Will he feel abandoned by his brothers and wishing he didn't have both of his parents' undivided attention? Will he learn to find his own voice in the cacophony of noise that permanently resides in our home?
How will John and I react and adjust to each bird leaving our nest? What would we do with all the time that is now consumed with parenting and chores? How will we choose to define ourselves and live the remainder of our lives without the constant responsibility of "raising" three sons?
All these questions floated around in my head as I drove home. Joshua easily found something to entertain himself with when we arrived, thankfully not Dora and the darned Star Catcher episode on On-Demand.
I thought of my own relationship with my younger sister. I still view her as someone that needs protecting, even though she is a grown woman, with children of her own. I have a hard time confiding big time stuff to her, mainly because I cannot stand to see her worry any more than she has to. And yet, she is a constant source of comfort. She is a friend in the truest sense of the word. And she completes such big portions of my life, as she knows me in ways that my dearest husband and children will never know. She has seen my evolution; knows my past because she lived it alongside me.
I wonder if my boys, in their own way, will have this gift in each other. I hope that they can support each other and love each other in similar ways.
All these thoughts brought on by a day of learning outside of the classroom. As I rushed out of the house for the appointment, Joshua asked me why I was leaving.
"Because I have something to take care of. But Daddy will be here, and your brothers. I'll only be gone a little bit," I said.
He scowled a little, then hugged me. "I want you here with me," he said.
The boys came home then. "I missed you so, Mom," exclaimed Matthew. "Hey Mommy. Did you have a good day?" asked Andrew.
As I looked around at my boys, I knew that the answers to all those questions would be answered in their own time. My heart was full.
Because I missed my boys today.
And because they missed me...