A few weeks ago, as I was bemoaning the noise and the lack of privacy when I pee, the fighting and the constant food consumption, I knew I would be writing this post. The “now the kids are back in school and I miss them” post. I knew it. Just like I knew, as grand as my plans were for the Summer, that we would more than likely get to the end of it all with a few extra sunburns, too many hours of movies and xbox, and far too many late nights swimming and eating ice cream. Because life is short, and they spend all year on a schedule, so we fudged a bit and did Summer ultra laid back. It was a great Summer. And I knew I’d take back all my complaints once school started.
But I didn’t expect to feel like this.
I seriously thought I’d be the rather insensitive mom, laughing and happy and joyful that I am now free to do whatever I want, while other mom’s are shedding their sad tears. But then it happened, on day #3, the tears poured out. I have nothing to do today but reclaim my house, and instead of feeling a sense of freedom and invigoration to plow through a task, or 10, uninterrupted, I feel a bit lost.
I know that sounds dramatic. I was told I’d feel such exhilaration in my new-found freedom, but I feel completely strange and out of sorts. I have been fighting a headache for the past 5 days, I’m getting a nasty cold or sinus infection and I don’t really know how I’m supposed to feel. Today when Lila got out of the car, smiling and happy, I expected to feel released to myself. After 11 years with days spent taking care of my kids, the only one I now have to care for during the day is me…and the dogs of course. But that doesn’t feel like enough. When she got out of the car, it all hit me. What now?
After 11 years of doing the same thing, that’s a strange feeling. Lila has been in preschool 3 days a week for the past two years. I’ve been without them plenty. So why is this so different?
I think it’s because it’s the end of something. I know I’ll never have those little years back(and no, this does NOT make me want to have another baby…no no no). Being home with my kids, watching them grow up and tackle those first 5-6 years of their lives was such a gift. And I got to do it 3 times. Once school starts, and I said this last week, time shows no mercy. It runs off as if being chased and you can’t seem to catch it. So, you hang on for dear life and do your best to treasure the time. You welcome each new phase your kid steps into knowing it won’t last long.
I hate change. I hate saying goodbye. To people, to well established routines, to comfortable, to predictable, to my kids being little, to safe, to just about everything. I’m annoyingly slow to adjust. And I give myself little grace to have an adjustment period for any sort of change. I expect to pull those big girl panties up and move on, quickly, even while knowing that’s not how I’m wired. So grace. Grace for self can sometimes be the hardest to give.
It all happened so fast. One day you’re changing diapers and finding your sanity in Chick Fil A, the next you’re alone, left with a headache that won’t quit and more emotions than you know what to do with, which I happened to stuff, until today, because who has time to sit and cry? I guess I do now, ha!
I picked them up from school to emails and planners and texts from now 9 teachers(6 for middle, 2 for 3rd grade and 1 kinder), a trombone for the kid who’s never played more than Hot Cross Buns on the 4th grade recorder, paperwork, more school supplies to purchase, sports schedules, youth activities at church, gymnastics, Rob’s travel schedule, and the list goes on. It’s too much at one time, and apparently, today is the day I get to process it all. Clearly, it’s going well.
My house is quiet, and I feel lost in all of the silence. And yet, I just cleaned out my closet which hadn’t been touched in 2 months, and it was pretty amazing. Zero interruptions. I set out to accomplish a task around the house, and I finished it, all in the same day. Miracles do happen. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.
It’ll take some time to adjust to middle school, new responsibilities for myself at the elementary school, scheduling, dinner prep, new sports schedules and all the other ways I’ll care for my family in our new season. To what life looks like from 3-8pm(um. crazy is a good start). And today, my goal is to give myself the grace to process and rest in it. I’ve been told to take that first year with all of your kids in school to rest, to absorb it all, to be content.
Don’t add to add too much too soon, the wise moms said. Allow yourself the time to figure out your next steps. I still have a husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a home to take care of. I still need to get my people to all their places, feed their bellies and listen to the details of their days. I’m not sure I fully grasped what a gift that was until they all got out of the car today. Until Jake walked to the bus stop, trombone in one hand, gym clothes in the other, deodorant safely tucked away, all big.
I miss my kids. And I’m not sure how long this will take to get used to. I’m waiting for the cartwheels and the freedom to settle in, but for now, I’m ok to feel a bit lost. To feel a bit sad, because for me, that means the last 11 years, through all of their ups and downs, were actually pretty amazing. I’m mourning the loss of what I’ve known for so long, and saying hello to something new, all at the same time. And it’s ok to feel all the feels. Each day may be a bit different, and over time, I’ll figure this out.
Motherhood is like opening a present, and each day you open something new. Some things you’d rather leave tucked away in the box, other’s you’re happy to have. We don’t get to choose. We don’t get to avoid hard things, sickness, tragedy, the difficult kid, the quiet one or the developmentally delayed one. We get the kids that God chooses to give us, because He knows we, in all our in abilities and flaws, are their best shot. He gives us the ones He wants us to nurture and love and protect, but we have to trust Him with the circumstances. With the good seasons as well as the ones we would love to say goodbye to. I had so many moments with my kids at home where I wished for this day. THIS very day, the one where I’m now sitting on my bed, tears rolling down my face, music in my ears, writing about how much I miss them. And now it’s here, and I miss the old days. Which is hilarious really because dealing with a screaming toddler in the middle of Target is NO ONE’S idea of a good time.
So, the concept of enjoying the season you are in rings true today. I enjoyed having them here, and I know so much good will come for me while they are in school. And for them. I have people I can serve, momma’s with littles at home that I can love on, schools I get to invest in, a home to take care of, and endless other possibilities right at my door step. And so do they. So, today, wherever you are, whether it’s a season of sorrow and want, or one of joy and peace, I encourage you to rest in it, because it won’t last forever. You may grieve it’s passing or cherish what’s to come next, happy to say goodbye.
Rest in it. Find gratitude in it. Let your tears roll down and give yourself grace to feel whatever you feel. Maybe what you chose wasn’t what you thought it would be. Maybe you made a change, and it’s hard, and isn’t getting any better. Maybe you have said goodbye to the familiar, to the safe and the predictable, and have stepped into something new and scary.
Maybe it’s new and exciting, overwhelming and amazing.
Maybe it’s confusing and just too much, and not at all what you asked for.
Speak thanks allowed for all the good there is. Because there is always good.
Today, I’ll find all the many things I have to give thanks for, even the tears, because it means my kids are pretty cool, and despite my many moments of insanity and yelling and frustration, the years with them at home were pretty great. And it means there are things ahead, unseen and unknown for now, that I can welcome with expectation and gratitude. This time next week, I may just be doing those cartwheels(I can still do a one handed round off ya’ll, that’s gotta count for something) and enjoying a quiet and peaceful trip to the grocery store. I may even do all the laundry IN ONE DAY, because this we know is quite literally impossible with kids at home. I can wait expectantly for all God might allow for me now, in the new, and in the quiet.