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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: Back to school means cherished and quiet uninterrupted time

UPDATED: Sun., Sept. 26, 2021

Julia Ditto was more than ready to put the crazy days of summer behind her.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
Julia Ditto was more than ready to put the crazy days of summer behind her. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

“Take me with you!” I hissed, grabbing onto Logan’s shirt sleeve as he headed out the door for a day of work last month.

Behind us, a veritable three-ring circus was in full swing: Nerf bullets were flying through the air, someone was pounding out an unrecognizable song on the piano, and multiple children were flopped on the couch utterly devastated upon hearing the news that they would yet again be expected to do chores for a portion of their morning.

We were in the waning days of summer, and a day at my husband’s dental office, giving unauthorized root canals to unsuspecting patients, seemed like a much better alternative than staying home among these jackals all day.

“Why do my days seem so hard?” I wondered later that night after all the lights had been turned off and it was blessedly quiet. “Taking care of my kids and keeping our house running is basically my job. But Logan comes home from his job every day and doesn’t seem like he wants to incessantly bang his head against a wall. Why does my job seem so rough?”

I pondered on it for a day or two until finally I got my answer: It’s because my job – in the summertime, at least – comes complete with six of the most lovable but absolutely worst “employees” imaginable.

One of them is always heading off to go skateboarding or hang out with friends; another disappears into the Bermuda Triangle of her bedroom for hours at a time. A few of them fall on the floor any time they’re asked to do even the simplest of tasks. And all of them, for at least part of the day, spend their time actively looking for ways to undo whatever thing I have just done.

But now, we’re at the tail end of September, and the long-awaited dream has finally come true: a seminormal school year has started, all my kids are of school age, and I am now one of those moms who has six hours to herself every single weekday.

I’ll leave the house to run errands, and I’ll come back to find it in the same state. There are no remains from a Top Ramen lunch feast left all over my kitchen counters. There are no cushions strewn across the living room floor effectively covering every surface except the couch.

No one is throwing stuffed animals off the balcony to annoy his brother, and no one is asking me the moment I walk in the door if he can take the car, meet some friends at the lake and then possibly drive to Seattle for the weekend to try out a skateboard park with his cousins.

I worried a little bit those last weeks of summer: Once all my kids were in school, would I miss them terribly? Would I sob my way through a bowl of cookie dough as I watched the bus pull away on the first day of school? Would I feel lonesome for their delightful chatter and nonstop activity, which reminds me that I am young and alive and the world is a beautiful place to live?

No. Not at all.

I am loving it. L-O-V-I-N-G I-T. This quiet, uninterrupted time is glorious; how did I ever function as a human being without it? Now listen: I’m not a monster. I adore my kids, and my relationship with them brings me enormous amounts of joy, yada, yada, yada.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t relish taking a shower without someone pounding on my bedroom door or writing my newspaper column without having to put on noise-canceling headphones and threaten everyone that I am calling off Christmas if anyone even thinks of interrupting me for the next hour.

“Oh, cherish these days,” I can hear some of the older and wiser among you saying as you look back fondly on the days when your kids were home. Yes, yes, I do. I mean, I will. Just let me finish this candy bar and magazine while I savor the utter silence in my home, and then the cherishing will commence immediately. The three-ring circus rolls back into town any minute.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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