The kids head back to school tomorrow, and I'm feeling solidly meh about it. A bit down, even. The eldest is 12 (almost 13) and entering 8th grade. The youngest is 10 and entering 6th. Where, exactly, has the time gone? Seriously. Have you seen the time? All of it?
But back to feeling blah about school.
It's not even that we've had a lot of fun lazy days this summer, though we have. I made it a goal to make sure we did a lot of traditional "summer" things, so the kids and I made a list at the beginning of the summer and then happily checked off items like "go for ice cream" and "go for ice cream to the other ice cream place" and "skip stones" and "fill the entire driveway with chalk drawings." I feel like the kids are getting older and older and these silly fun things get forgotten in the constant hum and beep of technology - be it texts or Instagram or video games or you tube.
We've had plenty of activities, and plenty of downtime, an introvert's most treasured activity, amiright?
And when I hurt my back mid-summer, I was supremely grateful my kids were home so I had help just managing the basics of everyday - taking out the dogs, laundry, dishwasher. Things I do a hundred times every day and didn't notice until excruciating pain hit. They helped out a lot.
But I'm not just melancholy because I'm losing my two minions (though they are very good minions, exceptionally well-trained if I do say so myself.)
And, this will surprise my spouse tremendously, it's not just that I will miss my "wake up whenever I wake up"ness of the summer, at least the unscheduled part of it. Although I will miss that quite a lot, too. ;) For the record, I consider it payback (still) for all the nighttime nursings and up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-a-child-who-won't-stop-screaming. The first nursed round the clock every 2 hrs his whole first year (and some beyond). The second went a full year stretch where she'd wake for 2 hrs in the middle of the night for no reason and just wail. Piteously. Even when I held her. Which I did, clutching her with a desperate grip, going slightly insane in the process. Let's tally that...carry the one, mumblemumble, add ten, yeah. I still haven't earned out.
The real thing, though, is this. As an introvert (remember, classic introvert definition: I need alone time to recharge my mental/emotional batteries. Extroverts recharge by being with people. Introverts do not.) I find time w/my immediate family to be similar to alone time (though not quite exactly like, which presents challenges sometimes like now when I had to say "um, child, I'm writing something. Can you please stop interrupting me?" Though an extrovert writer would likely have had the same issue being interrupted every 47 seconds...) I feel most energized when I've had adequate (read as: LOTS OF) time to just do my own quiet thing.
But once the kids go off to school, I'm stuck interacting with the world again. The big, exhausting, gigantic world. No more talking to the kids in the checkout line so I can avoid conversation with the clerk. No more making vague attempts to get the kids together with their friends, only to be relieved when their friends are unavailable and we can just hang out at home. Again.
Because I'm a writer, and the primary at-home parent to boot, I semi-force myself to get out of the house regularly while the kids are in school because otherwise I have a tendency to start surfing petfinder and fantasizing about how many cats one can obtain before one is considered "crazy cat lady." Or going entire days without having used my voice at all between 8 AM and 3:30 PM, which is nice and all, but at some point gets a wee bit unhealthy.
So I send off to school tomorrow my buddies, my introverts-in-crime (oh how helpful it was to have married an introvert! We had all the genetic fixin's to get us two lovely introverted children!) My armor against the big gigantic world. My excuse? My quiet (usually, except when I'm writing, groan) companions. Oh, and my minions. I suppose the dishes can wait until they get home...
 A corrollary to this is the fact that there is quite an adaptation curve for the kids w/school, since they are both introverted. Luckily they attend a small school, but it still takes a few weeks for them to come home less than exhausted, which can be exhausting to survive as a parent.
 Yeah, do I use them as an excuse sometimes? Maybe. Is that healthy? Probably not.