It's been almost four years since I have spent a single day without a kid in tow. But this last week marked my youngest child's first week of preschool, which meant I had three mornings all to myself.
I had been looking forward to this day for years – every time my children overwhelmed me or frustrated me or couldn't seem to get along, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that preschool would be starting soon.
As I dropped my children off at preschool last week, I waited for the jubilation to overcome me. But it never came.
In a million years, I never would have expected the sadness I felt when I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw two empty car seats. I wasn't just worried about whether my children were going to be okay without me – I was wondering if I was going to be okay without them.
I pushed my emotions aside and focused on my list of errands. I figured it would take the whole 2 hours to get everything done. So there was no time to waste.
I went to the library and exchanged old books for new. I explored areas beyond the children's section that I had never browsed through before. Then I went to the super market and didn't worry about whether one of my children was going to jump out the cart or sit on the eggs. I finished in record time.
I decided to go downtown and get a cup of coffee. I sat at a table on Castro, sipped my coffee and read a book I'd been carrying around in my purse for months.
At 11 am, I walked into a few stores that I never would have entered with two kids in tow. I realized that Mountain View isn't just a great place to raise kids; it is also a great place to explore on your own.
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to my children's preschool. I picked up two ecstatic children – my daughter, who told me about all her new friends and the new things she learned - and my son, who said he played with no one and did nothing – but said it with a smile.
In fact, we were all smiling as we drove home from preschool – happy to be together but not ashamed to admit that we thoroughly enjoyed our brief time apart.