Late night convos and karaoke…

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?

Another chapter closed…

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.

The busy teenager life…

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 energy to mother…

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.

There is rarely a dull moment mothering!

The spoiled baby…

I was on a walk when I ran into a family in the neighborhood. They have adult/married children as well as two kids still at home. While we were talking I saw a glimpse into their family dynamic (and what I assume to be similar dynamics to most every family.) The adult children were criticizing how the parents were parenting the youngest child – which was so different than how they were raised. They were confident their younger sibling is going to get whatever he wants and never have a curfew. They told sob stories of how strict their parents used to be and how they’ve paved the way for an easy life their younger sibling. Sound familiar?!

Of course everything was said in jest – but you could feel the accusation in their voice. It made me start thinking about my youngest. The older kids already think he gets away with everything – I kindly disagree, although I do recognize we parent him differently; partly due to experience and partly due to circumstance. I wouldn’t label it as “tired” or “lazy” parenting. More like a “does this really matter in the long run” and perhaps a more humble approach in admitting when we’ve made mistakes. But that doesn’t stop the older ones from spelling out how easy his life is going to be.

This is what they don’t see. They don’t see that he’s stuck at home with me all day when everyone else goes to school. Aside from Hallie (being the oldest) no kid has had all his playmates go to school and leave them home alone.

They don’t see that he’s stuck jumping from this practice, to this game, to someone else’s game and back to another practice. While my older kids got to play at home and in the neighborhood after school and on the weekends, he is at the soccer field. Or tennis court. Or basketball game. Trying to entertain himself with a package of grapes!

They don’t see that when he goes to high school, the focus still won’t be on him as the older kids start adult lives and families and we’re pulled in more directions.

They don’t see that he doesn’t go to the zoo or the children’s museum or the science museum like they used to – at one time we had annual passes to all of them and went on a regular basis!

They don’t see that everything he has is a hand-me-down from them.

They just see him as the youngest and how spoiled he’s going to be. Don’t get me wrong, being the youngest can have some major perks – but there is no perfect position in this family! And yet, he will probably spend the next 50 years trying to convince his siblings that he’s not spoiled and that his parents were hard on him too!