Four months ago, I experienced quite possibly one of the largest changes in motherhood as I sent all my kids out the door to school for the first time.
The question I kept getting from everyone was: What will you do with all your extra time? It was a valid question. I appeared to be gaining an extra 5 hours in my day of uninterrupted time – what would I do with it? Years ago, when people asked what I planned to do when all my kids went to school, I always just assumed I’d pick up more graphic design clients and do some more projects on the house. But the reality is I didn’t do either of those things.
Instead, I made a shift. I used to spend my evening hours working late into the night, while my kids were sleeping. But the funny thing about kids is the older they get, the later they stay up and I found myself not being able to complete work projects at night anymore. So I shifted my working hours to the daytime while they were in school. (Although I still stay up far later than I should – most of it is for fun.) This shift was important and came at a critical time in my kids’ lives as they were needing me at night. They needed help with homework. They needed a carpool driver. They needed someone to just listen to them. They needed me. And I was happy to make the shift.
So my daytime consists of connecting with Steve (he works from home too), working, a few projects, managing a home and serving in different capacities. My evenings are centered on kids and their activities and their needs. I call it the great shift of 2021.
Even months in, I’m still making adjustments, trying to find the best balance for all I’m trying to accomplish – and life is hard to keep up with sometimes!
Just today, I recognized a paradigm I needed to shift. For so many years, my daytime schedule revolved around preschool (8:30-11am) and Nap time (1-3pm). Which meant, I would get errands done with a child on my hip while one was at preschool and once they were home from preschool, we were home for the afternoon; having lunch and going down for naps until kids got home from school.
This morning, I started working and by 11, I was in a good place and thought I should run to Sam’s Club to stock up on food. I looked at the clock and saw it was just after 11 and my first thought was that I had run out of time for the day and I would go tomorrow. I still have it engrained in my head that by 11, I need to be home – which is crazy since my kids don’t get home until 3! I’m working to shift those thoughts but I can’t count how many times I’ve told myself it’s too late to go run an errand. An errand that at most would take an hour. Clearly, I’ve still got some work to do in my great shift!
When I was pregnant with my first child – I so badly wished for it to be a boy – Steve wanted a girl. I don’t know why – or the logic behind my thinking – but my mind was made up. My oldest sibling was a brother, Steve’s oldest sibling was also a brother and they both seem to be the protective type and that was appealing. Although girls can be cute toddlers, I heard horror stories of teenage girls and I was nervous.
And here I sit 16 years later wondering how I got so lucky. She is far from the dramatic teenager I assumed she would be. I would take 10 teenage girls just like her!
She was the perfect start to our family. She’s helpful. She’s compassionate. She’s low maintenance. Although at this stage, I’m pretty sure I want to hang out with her more than she wants to hang out with me – she’s great at appeasing me. She gives me late night conversations and car karaoke – what more could a mom ask for?
All good things must come to an end – and that includes preschool. I have paid our final preschool dues and I couldn’t be happier about the situation. Briggs had his final preschool program and even though I have attended this program 8 different times (two years for each kid) it never gets old. Each kid is so different and their performance is unique to them. Bennett is our most animated kid, but put him on a stage and he goes serious. For some reason, Briggs was trying so hard not to show his teeth and that in itself made me chuckle.
Seeing as though the teacher was retiring on the very last year we needed preschool was no doubt a tender mercy. All my boys went to her and there is one particular song where she invites previous students to the stage to sing along. I was hoping to have all four boys there to celebrate our teacher’s final performance, but Hunter knows his recess days are short and he wasn’t about to get pulled from school and miss recess.
But Bennett and Cannon were more than willing and they were happy to join Briggs on the stage to sing.
As you can tell, the theme for preschool this year was trolls and they’ve known all year long they were working for trolls trophies. And they did not disappoint! Briggs is now the proud owner of two vintage trolls which I know were hard to come by for the teacher to find.
This sweet lady has my heart. She has taken my kids in to her home and loved them like her own. Even when I know they were difficult. Side note: Hunter just reminded me of a time he got in trouble at preschool. He was always a mischievous kid and I often wondered how he handled being in her class. Anyway, some girl was using the drinking fountain and in Hunter’s eyes, she was taking her sweet time. Every once in a while she would stop sipping and look back at Hunter standing behind her waiting not so patiently I’m sure. After she would grin at him, she would slowly turn to the fountain and resume drinking. She did this a couple times before Hunter was done waiting and he pushed her head into the drinking fountain.
He has many stories just like that – but this teacher loved him anyway. She trained my boys to be obedient in the classroom and she was strict with them – and I know a few of them probably pushed her buttons. She taught them to read and she praised them and gave them confidence. She loved them. I see it in her eyes and my kids adore her as well. I can’t count how many times Briggs has created a picture that we had to drop off in her mailbox.
I find it a privilege to know we were with her when it ended – a teaching career that lasted over thirty years. And I feel blessed to have been associated with her. In a way, she’s made it so easy for us to move on without sadness because my kids are so ready. I don’t worry about them moving on. They’re ready. I’m ready. We’re all ready and it feels good. We’ve had such a fun preschool run and we have officially closed that chapter. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
We have just a few days left before all the kids are out of school and I’m enjoying these last moments of our one-on-one time. In all reality, he just wishes the play place at McDonalds would open back up – that would be his preference every day if given the choice. He doesn’t recognize the large changes that are coming so for him it’s business as usual. But I see them. I know change is just around the corner so we’re just going to soak in a few more moments.
As many mothers lament each new phase their child enters – as they slowly shed childhood – I rejoice.
And let me tell you, the next stage that Hallie is entering could not come at a better time: Driving. She is approximately 2 months away from getting her driver’s permit (which really means nothing to me because she has to have an adult in the car at all times) but it does mean she’s only 8 months away from an actual driver’s license. A license that allows her to drive to and from her various activities.
I think life has a natural flow and that flow involves busy teenagers. So busy that mothers are left to rejoice when the child they once help walk, finally sits behind the wheel and backs out of the driveway on their own.
I feel like I spend most of my afternoons running children around, but Hallie is by the far the one I cart around the most. Due to COVID, sports at the school have been a little jumbled and a little unconventional which leaves her running to and from the school right now multiple times a day because her winter school sport is overlapping her spring school sport. It’s a lot of to keep straight. The only advantage to all this back and forth is our car time. It’s our time to chat. Catch up. Talk about the day. I’m there for it.
I just wish I was there for it less times a day! 🙂
The older my kids get, the more mental energy it takes to “mother” them. I’m not just talking about feeding them and running them to their activities and making sure they brush their teeth.
I’m talking about the mothering that takes place every time I pick up my daughter and we chat in the car and sit in the garage afterward talking about the day.
…when a child wants to talk through their schedule selection for next year.
…when someone can’t find their special water bottle.
…when I’m trying to figure out why a child seems to be a little more emotional than usual.
…when I’m torn between two kid’s interests or activities.
…when a child is learning to be independent and it’s painful to watch them stumble.
…when a child is hurt and feeling left out.
…when I know a child needs something but I just don’t know how to give it to them.
…when I desperately want to hear a child’s frustrations and they can’t communicate them.
Mothering is carrying the weight of each child’s concerns, worries and luckily their excitement and it takes so much mental energy. It’s the mothering that is never talked about prior to having kids, instead it’s the “Oh you wait and see” approach!
Mothering is different for everyone but this picture just about sums up my mothering right now – cleaning tennis ball fuzz out of my daughter’s eye after taking a ball to the eye socket during her tennis tournament. Nursing her eye and then switching to the encouraging mom to help her remain mentally strong as she carried on through the tournament.