Most everyone I know has pangs of guilt and is teary eyed at leaving their kids at school on the very first day. But by the time the day arrived for two of my triplets to start preschool, I was chomping at the bit. Running around to get my third child to therapy daily started to take a toll on all of us in the month before school started. Out of the house, kids with a sitter waiting at home for me. The two left behind only knew that they saw the third one leave with me and they didn’t get to go. They started acting out. I began to feel almost like a working mom.
This isn’t so good for my daughter, whose sensory/OCD needs have trouble being met as it is. Now it got worse. Melt downs galore, over socks, shoes, toys, temperature, just about everything that agitates her. When this happens, the shrieking is so loud and her ability to hear me through the chaos in her mind is lost. I feel lost. The roller coaster I ride of, “Do I hold her tight?”Do I ignore her?” makes my stomach turn. Her crying and fits can go on for an hour, more, or until she wears herself, me and everyone else, out. Everything gets interrupted, including attention for the other two, who watch and repeatedly tell me that she’s crying. I worry that her teachers will call with news that I must pick her up from school because she acted out in some way. But she is usually very reserved in new situations. Once the honeymoon at school ends, she’s likely to hit her brother before any other kids. So that call, if it comes, won’t be for awhile.
In the meantime, I now have only one child on my hands during the day. It’s so strange. On the first day I left the school, I carted my third to therapy, and then took my time at the grocery store. Took. My. Time. I’d forgotten what that was like. Unpacking the goods at home, I made myself a nice risotto (that’s right, you heard me – MADE) lunch, and followed it with a tiny Ben & Jerry’s strawberry shortcake ice cream as a treat. My son and I ate calmly together. No food was thrown on the floor. There was hardly anything to clean up, and I started thinking I could take a nap when he does. Huh, do moms with one baby do that?
As the day wore on, I felt such a sense of relief. I didn’t have to rush home for the sitter to leave, I didn’t have three kids to get down for naps with one or two resisting it, no one was fighting over toys or knocking over my non mobile child. I could actually follow through on my son’s therapy needs outside of therapy sessions. And . . . my house was blissfully quiet for the first time in three years. Did I feel guilty? Not at all. Parenting multiples brings noise. Special needs bring additional challenges. I don’t have the luxury of being too reflective. Developmental milestones have taken on far more importance than some practical every day issues - like laundry, dishes, etc.
My friends called and emailed that day, asking me if I cried, if I made it through, and how I felt. What I felt was a little hug and some relief being delivered to the guilt I still feel for my children’s 11 week premature birth. They were ready for preschool! Earlier than planned! We did that. We got them there. In spite of it all. They made it. So how am I supposed to feel? Happy.