The backpacks are packed and lined up in a row next to the front door, which is open so I can listen for the whine of the school bus’s brakes. The kids are up, washed, dressed and picking at their bagels like birds. They are too excited and anxious to eat. It’s the first day of the school year.

Large leaves first, pushing his glasses against his face as he trudges to the bus stop. He is nervous about riding a school bus full of high schoolers (“They’re animals, Mom. Some of them shave twice a day!). I reassure him. Then I tell him to find a seat in the front of the bus.

Medium goes next, after happily posing for first-day-of-school pictures with her younger brother. She can’t wait to get to her classroom and see her friends.

Brendan and I drive Henry to his pre-school. In no time at all, he is busy in the sandbox playing with another kid, whose name I didn’t catch even though I made him tell me three times.

I drop my husband off at work, nod when he reminds me to call the repair shop that is holding our other vehicle hostage, and loop home. From the couch, the dog acknowledges my return by briefly opening his eyes and twitching his tail a couple of times. He continues to nap as though I hadn’t interrupted.

The silence is deafening.

I take a deep breath. And then another. I do not turn on the radio. I do not turn on the television. I allow the quiet to envelop me and I revel in it.

Last week another mom said to me, “I’m so sad when they all go back to school. I miss them so much during the day.”

I managed to hold my tongue but my eyebrows hit my hairline. “Mmm.” I said.

I love my kids. I do. But I do not spend one minute of the nine hours a week that I get to be alone missing them.

Someday, I am sure that I will re-read these posts and remember my children when they were still children and I will, in fact, miss them.

But that time is in the distant future. Right now, this man’s joy is my own:

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