Today is Riley’s birthday. He’s five.
My baby is five.
Five is big. It’s the threshold of childhood. It’s a new beginning. It’s a landmark of a birthday, and it’s as significant for me as it is for him. You see, I worked for the first few years of motherhood, but by the time Riley was born, I had chosen to stay home full time. His fifth birthday not only celebrates his remarkable life, but also it marks the fifth year that I’ve been a stay-at-home mother.
My baby is five, and I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for five years.
Believe it or not, I was recently asked, “Still home?” It’s a rude question, isn’t it? It’s full of judgment, disappointment, and presumption.
“My youngest is still in preschool,” I said in a polite response. “We’ll see what happens when he’s in Kindergarten and at the same school as his older brother.”
We’ll see what happens…
The thing that was so unnerving about the question was that I wondered (and worried) about it, too. About still being home. My boys were four and six when the question was first posed. Today, they’re five and seven, which has put me even deeper in thought about the notion of still being home.
I didn’t have a specific plan or timeline when I chose to lean out, opt out, or whatever it is I did all those years ago, but I didn’t imagine I’d be home five years later either. It’s like I’ve trudged up an enormous hill (with a sense of pride, determination, strength, and resilience I didn’t know I had) only to reach the top and have the feeling of accomplishment cut short because I’ve found myself out of breath at the edge of a cliff.
The truth is that I have no clue what I’m going to do when my baby’s in Kindergarten and at the same school with his older brother. I feel the same amount of anxiety about it as I did five years ago when I stood on the precipice of work and home.
Today, on Riley’s 5th birthday, we’re both on the cusp of something new and unfamiliar.
For him, it’s Kindergarten and new friends and fieldtrips and big yellow school buses and sleepovers and rock paper scissors and thumb wars and knock knock jokes and every adventure that comes with leaping fearlessly into the wonder and surprise of childhood.
For me, it’s following his lead and trusting that if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, I’m probably exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Happy birthday to my beautiful baby, er, boy.