I'm a stay at home mom whose kid is gone 9 hours a day.
We made the decision for me to stay home before we knew that Noah would be born early, have a long hospital stay, and have long term consequences of his premature birth. When he was born I knew it was the right decision for him. I was able to take the time to really focus on Noah and what he needed, and I know he has benefitted from it. Early on it was very isolating. When I decided to stay home I thought about how fun it would be for me to drop my little guy off at the church nursery so that I could attend the Wednesday morning Bible study. I pictured playdates at the park and buying french fries at chick fil a so the kids could play when it was too hot outside. Almost all of my friends had kids the same year so I knew it would be a wonderful bonding experience for all of us. But then I had a preemie...
Church nursery is full of germs and to be avoided at all costs when you're trying to grow healthy lungs in your baby or toddler. I didn't end up joining the Wednesday morning Bible study until Noah started school.
We've had a few playdates through the years, but rarely at the park since pollin makes Noah puke, and they're few and far between since many parents seem to think that disabilities are contageous.
Chick fil a is wonderful but the play area is full of static and germs. At 5 Noah still doesn't have the physical ability to climb up into the tunnels without a hand to hold and is too tall to pass as young enough for the baby/toddler area so unless we're there with friends with older kids it doesn't happen. And although Noah has become pretty insistant that we buy him a kids meal when we go to chick fil a, he still doesn't eat french fries or chicken nuggets or drink lemonade.
Through the years I've found other ways to keep from going crazy. I have a few friends who are wonderful and don't mind my kid acting a little weird or different when he plays with their kids. Noah is an avid shopper and is always up for a trip to Target or the fabric store. He loves to play dress up, act silly, do craft projets and read books.
I really truly believe that I've done what I can to prepare Noah for school. He's not potty trained. He can't write his name small enough to fit on a line. He needs help blowing his nose and buttoning his pants. But he can do more than he could last week, which is more than the week before and so on. He might not be making quick progress but he's always learning and growing and he although he gets frustrated at what he can't do that he wants to do, he has a generally good attitude about his abilities and is always willing to try.
Somehow I didn't realize that sending Noah off meant an end to all of that. For years I've been Noah's primary teacher, now I'm just his advocate. It's an important job, but its hard learning to change. I feed Noah breakfast and dinner. I put him to bed and wash his clothes.
I miss him.
Soon I'll find other things to occupy my time. That Wednesday morning Bible study is about to start. Volunteer orientation is in a few weeks at Noah's school and then they'll be sick of me. Once I get my wrist surgery out of the way I hope to start substitute teaching. But it won't ever be the same again. As much as staying at home with Noah was frustrating and crazy and overwhelming, staying home without him is sad and lonely and empty.