So, my big boys started school about four weeks ago (can you believe that?!), but Little Angel started four days ago. First day of kindergarten. A milestone. A sobber.
People asked me left and right: “Are you ready for this?” “Wow, kindergarten! Can you believe it?” “What are you going to do with all your time?” And I politely gave the “woe-is-me” answers I was supposed to. I’m going to cry all day. I won’t know what to do with myself. Make it go away!
But the truth was, I was genuinely unaffected. I maybe thought I should have been affected (I know, don’t “should” on yourself…), but I really wasn’t. In reality, kindergarten, for Little Angel, meant she was going to the same building where she’d had preschool for two years. She was seeing the same teachers, following the same routine, and coming home at the same time. Same carpool line. Same protocol.
Until today. Today, it changed.
Beginning today, she has long days. Instead of coming home at noon, she stays until 2:15. Long. Or should I say lllooonnnggg??? Long enough for me to notice how long she’s gone.
And. I. Hate. It.
This time, I genuinely do. The “should” answers of the last four days have become my real-to-life, true answers. I’m crying all day (ok, just once). I don’t know what to do with myself (I’m pacing like one of those jaguars you see in the zoo). Make it stop!! Boy, oh boy, does this feel WEIRD!! I think it hit me when I walked into my all-too-quiet house and sat by myself to eat lunch, something I haven’t done in almost 11 years, save the occasional playdate or vacation.
My last bambino to head to big-kid school. I feel like an empty-nester.
But then there is the part of me that is so, so happy. So happy that my little girl has grown big enough to be able to go to school. So happy that she is healthy. So happy that she is comfortable in this school, with her teacher, with her classmates. SO happy that she is having fun.
I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of having an “attachment disorder” to my kids. Now, I’ve looked this up and I don’t think it means what the accusers think it means, but I get the gist. I want to be with them WAY too much; even when they are making me crazy.
But I see it differently. I’m pathetic at setting goals, horrible at aiming for something, ridiculous about attempting to set expectations for years to come. However, for some reason, God has given me a far-off view of parenting. He keeps me attuned to the long-term procedure of raising mini-humans: They won’t be around forever. God gives us a very, very short time with them (which sometimes feels like a very long time), and then they are gone. Again, it sounds like something people say because they “should”, but I get this one. I get it. And I hold onto it.
That doesn’t mean I am able to realize the long term effects of screaming at them every second of the day as I do it, but it does make me quick to repent when I calm down. (How nice it would be to go there FIRST…)
What I AM able to do, though, is to see that each day that ends with them is one more closer to having to say good-bye.
And this is where I get stuck. The benefit of seeing the long-term is that I can value, cherish, and appreciate each day I’m given. The curse is that if I’m not careful, I can mourn the passing of time and miss out on celebratory events…like the first long day of kindergarten. The challenge is to be able to do both. To be sad that I have to eat lunch without my mini-me, AND to be thankful that she is getting to eat with a group of good friends.
Now begins the process of figuring out how to live my life (and my new schedule) as a mom with kids in school. New terrain, here, folks. But good stuff.
I’ve not had to think about my time for over a decade because most moments were spent caring for someone else. I have a few more moments, now. How would God like me to spend them? This is a good thing! New terrain can be scary if you aren’t prepared for an adventure. But what’s more adventurous than parenting?!
BRING IT ON!
Honestly, for me, I think the trick will be to allow those white spaces on my calendar. To prevent the pencil marks from filling in the holes. To take the time to take time. To make my “yesses” the best “yesses” I can; for me, for my family, and for the Kingdom.
So, if you will excuse me, I have a porch to sit on.
And 35 minutes before an Angel comes home…