One day last week, I tied the shoes, packed the lunches and zipped the backpacks, piled my four kids into the vehicle… And then walked them to their classrooms.
All while my heart demanded that I grab their hands and march them back home!
This is my first year with all of my kids in school full time. It’s the day every mom “dreams of,” right?
I remember sitting on the couch one afternoon (messy hair, no sleep) with a newborn in my arms and a toddler snuggled up beside me. What I wanted more than anything in that moment was just to go to bed.
I found myself wondering, What would it BE like for these kids to be in school?
In the middle of those years of potty training and sleepless nights, I pictured this day with eager anticipation. I pictured myself grocery shopping alone, making lunch for only one, and taking a nap just because I could. (A girl’s got to make up for those years of sleepless nights somehow!)
But here it is, the day all of my children are in school, and instead of whooping with joy I’m wandering the house noticing how quiet it feels. I’m watching the clock, begging it to speed up just a fraction so I can go get those big kids of mine and bring them back where they most belong.
Granted, I do enjoy the ability to efficiently run errands and to work at the computer guilt-free. But during those quiet, solo moments, I can’t help but wonder…
Did I do enough with them while they were home?
Did we bake enough muffins, read enough of our favorite books? Did we snuggle on the couch enough, watching episodes of My Little Pony?
Did I work too much? Did I say “just a minute” one too many times?
Did I really, TRULY treasure the days of them being little?
I tried so hard.
But this is the challenge of motherhood: moving from one phase to another before we’ve truly learned to appreciate the one we’re in.
First it was getting used to not having a baby in the home—getting used to walking into my youngest’s room without seeing a crib take center stage.
Then it was getting used to being needed less, like when I realized no one needed to be carried on our family hikes.
And now it’s getting used to the knowledge that a good portion of my children’s lives are experienced outside of our home.
It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, especially when in many ways, it feels like just yesterday you were washing bottles and averting toddler tantrums.
But I’m trying to embrace this new stage of motherhood, because as I’ve learned so far, it won’t last.
With two in elementary school, one starting middle school, and one starting high school, we’re trading in our little kids for “bigs.” We’re trading diapers and bibs for Pokemon cards and soccer cleats. Instead of celebrating first steps and new words, we’re celebrating learner’s permits and football wins.
Dear moms of big kids, let’s remember this:
This stage is beautiful in its own way. We just have to hold on to that.
With every year we get a fuller picture of the people our children are becoming. We get to see them grow in their independence and act on the lessons we’ve taught them all their lives.
Dear moms of big kids:
We have so much to look forward to.
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I love this! Wonderful thoughts for those of us with littles still at home.
Mary-Rose McMullin says
Can’t believe how old your kids are. In my mind, they are still the little you played with at the Parent Link Centre! Lovely post– good reminder to me in my stage of life too.
I am in the same boat as you, 2 in elementary, 2 in middle school and a new high schooler. CRY.
It’s so hard….isn’t it @Sheila!?
Emily, our house now a home says
This is me right now! My kids are 8, 6 and 5, with my youngest starting kindergarten last week. I am home, also working from home and I have to have music on to ease the silence. I worry I did not do enough with my tiny ones, love them enough, play enough. I too wonder if I said “hold on” too often. But, none of us can go back. Look to the love your kids give, the compassion, excrement for life, friendships they build, and independence they gain. That is the best clue into what we did as parents, knowing we did enough to get them here. Now I am off to “work” and watch the clock hoping it speeds up too 🙂
Kim N says
As a mom of four daughters, who is now an empty nester, let me encourage all you mommas out there! Do your best to embrace the sleepless nights, the great days that make you laugh, the hard days that make you cry, the times you crave to be alone and the times you are alone and don’t know what to do with yourself! I truly love being a mom of four daughters and Lord knows it wasn’t easy. But oh how I miss a loud house, sleep overs, barbies on floor, and baby dolls thrown amuck.
Sometimes (and it’s been two years of empty nesting for me) the quiet of my home is just too much! You grieve for the first couple years of being an empty nester and while it may not be like grieving someone who has passed, it’s most definitely hard! Let me also say that the next season, after empty nesting, which is called grandmothering- well it’s simply THE BEST!!!!
I’m enjoying your blogs and pictures as Well… GBY
Diane McKissick says
Wonderful blog! At 67 after 3 kids you echo my thoughts exactly. I was a stay at home Mom but I still think maybe I could have, should have but don’t do that. Make a conscience effort and do you best it will be enough. The world is a much crazier place now. However, the efforts of moms (& dads) still make a difference. Kids don’t need all the “stuff” being promoted. They only need our love and attention. And trust me even though they leave our homes, go off to college, get married and work too much they still need a mom. They call for a favorite recipe, to check if this gas bill can possibly be correct and find out how to negotiate the best deal on a car. We will always be their moms. So as you say savor and just enjoy the ride. Thanks?