I was talking with my mom on facetime. The kids were playing and we could hear their cackles vibrating off the walls.
Before long, they were running through the office (in the background of my video) giggling and playing. My mom commented how nicely they were playing together. But every mom out there knows siblings can go from happy and playing to crazy mad and fighting in not time flat.
Not ten minutes later, I could hear Briggs wailing. Their playing/pre-fighting had quickly turned to real fighting and Briggs, as the youngest and smallest, was at the mercy of an older brother and he was not happy about it. Luckily, kids forgive quickly and before long, they were right back to pre-fighting!
We’re in an interesting stage of life. Our kids are actively involved in school and sports and church and it keeps us occupied. Last week was exceptionally crazy when Hunter and Bennett both had weekday soccer tournaments and Hallie had weekday tennis matches. Its a juggling act we didn’t anticipate would be quite so intensive.
It was just two years ago when the world shut down and every sport/school/activity was cancelled and it was just our family hanging out. I think Steve still longs for those days back. He’s more sensitive to the constraints on our time and wishes we all gathered around the dinner table as an entire family more than we get the opportunity to.
I agree with him in some regard. But then I look at each kid individually and acknowledge I would do just about anything to support them in their interests. If Bennett is excited about battle of the books – I want to be excited to. If Hallie is committed to tennis – I want to be committed to tennis. If Hunter wants to dedicate time to soccer – I want to dedicate time to soccer. (The younger two are still in the early stages of their interests)
I want them to be committed to something, I want them to have to work hard, to give up “hanging out” with friends, to wake up early on the weekends. I want them to experience loss and failure and frustration as well as the reward of sweet victory.
All of which comes at a cost – and the biggest cost right now seems to be time.
We’re still trying to find that balance between raising a family and building individuals who will grow to be contributing adults.
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.