We are in an interesting phase of life. We have a revolving front door with all ages running through and its become a little bit of a balancing act. Weekends have to be planned so Hallie and Hunter know when they can brings friends over and have full access to the hangout room. And if neither of them claimed dibs, you better believe the other three are chomping at the bit to host a pool party or a movie night or whatever other genius plan their minds conjure up. I can play referee to 6-year-olds one afternoon and then entertain teenagers the next.
Our home is always open. Is it always clean? Nope. But they know they’re welcome here and I’m not going to freak out when a dozen kids are traipsing through my kitchen with their wet feet after I just mopped the floors (even more reason for me to mop them less often – as if I needed an excuse).
Hunter decided to host a gathering a couple weeks back. The plan was to play frisbee dodgeball at the church and then come back for cookies and swimming and the invite list was extensive. (And in situations like this it’s always an open invite. So every person who asked if they could bring another friend, the answer was always yes.) I’m not sure how many people couldn’t make it, but I do know that 38 people decided to come. And they had the best time.
As a parent, I’m happy they’re here because I get to know every single one of them and that is worth the messy floors and dozens and dozens of cookies consumed.
One weekend evening, our house was quiet and Steve was heading off to bed as I slipped out to grab Hunter from a friend’s house. While picking Hunter up, I was chatting with the mom and catching up when I saw a call come through from Steve. Finding it odd he was calling so late, I picked up the phone, “Hallie’s group just arrived and they don’t want to see me, they want to see you so come quickly!”
And just when I thought my night was winding down, it was in fact ramping up and I wasn’t even sad about it. I was excited at the idea of seeing Hallie’s friends and feeding them cookies.
After a heavy week of hosting every age of kids, I came across this quote on Facebook and I couldn’t relate more – I am a middle mom.
I am a middle mom and this has to be the sweet spot of parenthood. We are in the thick of every age and it’s exhausting, but so great and rewarding. It is rare that a day goes by that we don’t have welcome visitors/playmates and it makes for a busy but joyful (at times joyfully loud) home. Hoping we can make this stage last as long as possible because we sure do love a full home.
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?