The preschool schedule for next year came out last week. Apparently more is
more, because as predicted, they're radically increasing the hours
for virtually all of their classes. My options for Julia: M/W/F 12-2:45 and T/Th 9- 2:45, M/W/F 9-2:45 and T/Th 12- 2:45 or M-F 9-2:45. Or, of course, another preschool.
I presented the situation to Julia after I'd received the mailing, and her first response was predictable. It was too much school. It was too late in the day. If Pre-K was going to be so long and it was going to be mainly in the afternoon, she didn't want to go.
"That's fine," I told her. "We can find another school and you can go in the mornings, the same way you do this year. She immediately looked horrified. "I can't leave my school and my friends," she replied. I frankly agreed. It's taken Julia 2 years to feel comfortable enough to open her mouth in school at all, and she's still speaking primarily to her friends and not the teachers. She finally has a tight knit group of friends and a clear comfort level at school. To start over fresh would essentially be to waste the majority of next year on transitioning to a school she'd only spend a year at anyway. We'd have to start over with new friends, new playdates, new everything. Julia is not a start over kind of kid. I was relieved that she recognized that.
"Well, nothing's going to be perfect then," I told her. Either you pick a less than ideal schedule or you pick a less than ideal school." So we hashed out scenarios for a while. And in the end, we came up with something which we think will work. Julia will go to school M/W/F 12-2:45 and T/Th 9- 2:45. Evan will go to school M/W/F 9-11:45. Each of my kids will have 2 or 3 morning a week alone with Mommy. And despite all of that tuition money I'll be shelling out, I will not get a moment to myself.
Julia loved the plan once she realized there was special alone time with me built in. Evan, if he truly understood the situation, would love it, too, since this means he will be playing happily at school rather than sitting around waiting during Julia's chosen extracurricular activity and all of her playdates.
And me? I will be driving to the temple 2 to 3 times a day every day of the week to drop children off and pick them up. I will be schlepping children with me to the grocery store and to Target and to do every other errand on my list. That writing career I was hoping to establish some day soon? No time for that next year. (Deliberate sabotage, I wonder?) Trips to the gym and doctor's appointments? I'll be squeezing those in or forgoing them for yet another year. The freedom of having 2 children in preschool at the same time? Lovely pipedream, but there'll be none of that for me.
I did have a choice here. I could have put Evan in school the same 2 mornings Julia would have been there and had those 2 mornings to myself. But then I would have had both kids with me the other mornings. Evan would have had to schlep around to his older sister's activities and I would have had no time alone with Julia at all. I frankly wasn't sure the 2 alone days were worth it. I might have selfishly chosen that schedule anyway, but Julia changed my mind. That look on her face when I suggested we might be able to spend some mornings alone together? I'll never forget it. How could I say no?
I should be furious about the situation and I should be dreading next year, but instead I find myself curiously excited. Julia's enthusiasm about spending time alone with me was a little contagious, and her obvious need for my undivided attention made me realize how fleeting these days are going to be. Some day, I'll write and work out and push a shopping cart in peace. But next year, I'm going to do what I set out to do when I decided to be a stay at home Mom; I'm going to spend time with my kids. And hopefully, the "I'm a good mom" feeling this decision fills me with will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.