Another First…

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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.

The Same.

Until today.  Today, it changed.

Why?

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…

 


The Challenge

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Well, we now have one full week of school under our belts, and as expected, the pencil markings are FLYING!  I’m afraid to open my email because every day is filled with evites for sign-ups:  room parent meetings, room parent brunches, kindergarten open house, kindergarten assessments, football assessments, soccer assessments, six birthday parties, two back-to-school parties, first day brunches, parent/teacher conferences, and a wedding.  No, TWO weddings! On August 23 alone, I have SIX planned activities; five of which need evite responses.

I’m freaking out!!! (Which, by this point, you should know I do easily…)

One week ago, a mere seven days, my calendar lay there perfectly blank.  Empty.  A clean slate.  For the vast majority of my life, I have seen that open space as opportunity.  Room to FILL!  Room to DO!  Room to experience!  I couldn’t wait to scratch ink blot after ink blot on the pages, each mark noting the chance to do something great.  Something fun.  SOMETHING.

And part of me (a lot of me) really still feels that way.  I am so excited to do stuff.  (Yes, I said “stuff”.)  Much of my demeanor is Eeyore, but my attitude is Tigger.  “What are we gonna do today, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal?”

I’ll write a separate entry about that part of me; the part that relishes every opportunity as a gift God gave me.  That’s good stuff. (“Stuff” again…I see it.)

But for now, seeing the vast whiteness of an unmarred calendar is glorious.  A breath.  A different kind of opportunity; one in which I’m not yanking out my remaining hairs.  One in which I’m not barking at the Smurfs to “GO HERE!” or to “GET IN THE CAR!”. One in which I can stop, smile, hug, and inhale.  Deep and long.

In the vast chaos of my ADD-filled brain and child-filled life, I’m….well…I’m just POOPED!!!!  It was one thing when I was filling a blank calendar with event after event meant for myself, but filling it with event after event for three other people is…

Well, I’m just stupid.  That’s what it is.

I want the kiddos to be able to do and experience all the things I would love to do and experience if I were in their bodies, so I try to make it happen.  And then I drag the non-participating sidekicks and all of their complaints with me to every single experience.  I justify it by thinking at least ONE of them is having fun each time.  Maybe.

By the end of last school year, I was really ready to try to ease down on life.  Trying to take breaks.  Trying to allow the stoplights to be moments of pause and reflection.  And that attitude hasn’t changed.  Not at all.  But the schedule has….

And now I need to figure out how to marry the two.

How do I pause and breathe, and still manage the schedule of four busy people (I’ll let Hubby handle his own schedule.  Thanks, Babe.)?  How do I stay involved and remain uninvolved?  Specifically, I can’t figure out how to do things I would like to do to better myself in the short amount of time the kids are in school so that I can be fully present when they are at home.

How, Lord, do I manage a hyperactive brain and body with a knowing desire to S-L-O-W-D-O-W-N?!

How do you do it?  How do you decide what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to?  Lysa TerKeurst is releasing a new book called “The Best Yes” which discusses this very dilemma.  What, in your life, is important enough to give your “yes” to and what should be left on the “no” pile.  Will your “yesses” give life to your spirit, soul, body, and family?  Or are you suffocating your soul with cancer-causing “yesses”?

I plan to spend more time trying to figure this out (sure wish it came with a formula to follow…).  Will you?



First Day of School (*sigh*)

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Well, today marked the first day of the school year for us pseudo year-rounders here in ATL.  Just as quickly as it came, summer break has slipped through the sands of the hourglass.

(*sigh*…Sand…)

I digress.

Just a few weeks back, I found myself on the precipice of a BREAK!  A break from extra-curriculars, a break from carpools and drop-offs, a break from “have-to’s” and “do-this’s”.  A break from playdates, parties, teams, crowds.  A break from wondering what horrible disease the kiddos were going to bring home to share with our crowd of five.  A break for THEM (from all the “have-to’s”, “do-this’s”, schedules, and carpools).  No homework, no alarm clock, no reason to stop playing in the street at 5pm.

And now I’m in need of a new break.  A break FROM them!

A dear friend of mine spent her summer living in India, where her hubby worked each day till 7, and there was no babysitter to be seen on the far side of the Atlantic.  She literally spent every moment of a pregnant month with her two kiddos!  Pretty sure I saw her skipping out of the school this morning….

Typically for me, the joy of not having to face all the pencil markings on my calendar (Yes, I still use a paper calendar.  Old school, baby!) outweighs the fact that no pencil markings means no time sans children.  The sheer bliss of the sun kissing my tank-topped shoulders trumps the weight of three sweat-covered complaints with legs chirping in my ears.  The ecstasy of waking up at 7:00 (I dream big) deafens the sonic boom of large tiny voices that live in continual conflict.  I grow numb to the truly maddening realization that my mini-people are physically incapable of getting along and that I no longer know how to walk anywhere without shuffling eight legs instead of just two.  I brush off the fact that I haven’t spent time with another grown-up alone, written in my journal, attempted a blog entry, or skittered to LA on the elliptical machine without three other athletes-to-be in tow.  

None of it matters, because we are on BREAK!!  The sun is shining!  The pool is warm!  We are together! 

I.  LOVE.  IT!!

Until I don’t.

Then I suddenly realize that I haven’t seen another grown-up alone in two months.  I haven’t shopped for groceries without reminding little people that the carts aren’t bowling balls and the food displays aren’t jungle gyms.  I haven’t written in my journal or attempted a blog entry since the final school bell rang.  I haven’t listened to the waves.  I haven’t had one. moment. of. sibling. peace.

And then just like that….summer’s over!  Before I had the chance to realize what was going on.

And just in time to save me from realizing what was going on.

So here I sit.  11:30pm after the first day of school.  After the first bell rang, the pencil markings started adding up, two playdates occurred, groceries were shopped for, lunches made, and a blog post entered.

I don’t think I’m ready for this.

Or maybe I am….