Monday, September 12, 2016

the end of an era

Hello! WeThree hope you'll forgive us for the complete radio silence here over the last couple of weeks. Between work, a new baby, and a new school year, we've sort of been up to our eyeballs in life :) Posting may be a little spotty here for a bit but be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates.

As I said, the new school year has begun, and this past Tuesday I sent my baby girl off to Kindergarten. I was nervous about how the morning would go. Both of my children had a very tough time going to preschool - when I dropped them off they would cry and the teachers would have to peel them off of me and I would have to run down the hallway away from them while they yelled, "Mama! Don't leave me!"


Traumatizing not only for them, but also for me.

Thankfully, Tommy didn't have any trouble going to Kindergarten. He headed off to class with not even so much as a backward glance, and although I did cry a little bit as I pushed one-year-old Annabel home from school in her stroller that first morning after dropping Tommy off, I soon buried those feelings underneath a pile of dishes and laundry and diapers as I continued to care for my young daughter. I didn't see it as an end because I still had work to do with number two.

And then I blinked, and it was her turn to go off to Kindergarten.

I worried about Annabel more than I did about Tommy. He was more independent at home, playing by himself more often than not. Annabel, on the other hand, is basically attached to me anytime we're together. She hates for me to even leave the house without her. (And maybe you remember this post that documented just how attached we really are.) So naturally, I worried. Would she be scared or nervous? Would she refuse to get on the bus? Would she cry and cling to me and not want to let go? I laid in bed the night before she went off to school and prayed hard that the next morning would go smoothly.

Amazingly, and oh so thankfully, my sweet girl woke up all smiles on Tuesday, jumped out of bed and said, "THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!" And I practically melted with relief. When the bus pulled up in front of our house, she gave me a huge hug, kissed me on the cheek and ran off to join her friends. It was exactly what I needed her to do and I'm so thankful that she is loving every minute of school so far.

As the bus pulled away with both of my children on it for the very first time, I stood there in the driveway.....alone.

I had already planned to run or walk every morning right after they got on the bus so I popped in my headphones, turned the music up and started running. And as I ran, I found myself reflecting.......

For seven of the last nine years, I have been at home full-time with my babies. Being a stay-at-home mom was the only job I ever truly wanted, and I am so incredibly thankful to my hard-working husband that I was able to be home with them when they were little. That said, staying home with kids can sometimes be difficult. There were many days where I felt lonely, overwhelmed, unprepared, bored, fed-up, and exhausted. There were days when I wished I could leave and go to work. There were days when I put them both down for a nap and sat on my bed and cried.

I know I'm not alone in this, and I know these feelings aren't limited to stay-at-home moms. Working moms feel all of these same things. We are not separated by our choices, and I am sick to death of all the comparisons that women make these days. It doesn't matter if you breast feed or bottle feed, crib sleep or co-sleep, sling carry or not, work full-time, part-time or stay home. If your child is fed, mostly clean (cause really, when are they ever completely clean?!), and LOVED, then we are WINNING at being moms. End of story. (And end of rant...and to use a popular phrase that I am decidedly not fond of but that actually works quite well in this instance: #sorrynotsorry. Look, I even did a hashtag!)

But for every hard day, there was a great day. For every frustrating day, there was a proud day. For every exhausting day, there was an energizing day. I loved it and I made sure to pay attention because everyone (EVERYONE) told me that it would go by so fast. Although I believed them, I didn't really think too much about it because I was busy and tired and drowning in laundry and toys and diapers and dishes all. day. long.

Then, just like that, nine years passed by in the blink of an eye and I was standing (running) on the other side of my tenure as a stay-at-home mom. And all these questions started floating through my mind...

Did I do enough?
Did I play enough?
Did I read enough?
Was I kind enough?
Did I teach them enough?
Did I prepare them enough?
Did I care enough?
Did I pray enough?
Did I laugh enough?
Did I discipline enough?
Did I love them enough?

Maybe those questions sound crazy knowing that I still have several more years before they leave the house, but while they were home with me, it was my job to lay the foundation that they would take out into the world. And those were the questions that passed through my mind as I watched the bus carry my babies off to school. Did I do enough to prepare them?

In all honesty, I don't really know what "enough" means for any of those questions, but I do know that I did my best. And that's really all I could do. That's all any of us can do. But there's something I want to tell you if you have little kids, whether you stay at home full-time or work part-time or if you go to work every single day. I want to tell you to ENJOY it. Enjoy all of it. The hugs, the tantrums, the kisses, the crying, the " I love you's," the "I'm not ever taking a nap again's," the play time, the food throwing, the food eating, the laughing, the fighting, the smiles, the crankiness, the sweetness, the book throwing, the book reading, the screaming, the singing, the craziness and the amazingness. In the ever-so-wise words of Darius Rucker, "It won't be like this for long."

He's totally right, as is every single person that ever told me that "it goes by so fast." I know you're probably sick of hearing that but let me just tell you one more time: IT GOES BY SO FAST! Every difficult phase your child goes through will be over before you know it and a new one will take it's place. Be thankful for every single day that you have with them and love them to the best of your ability. Teach them to be kind and open and honest. Teach them to pray hard and love well. And whatever you do, don't blink, because it'll be over before you know it.

Before I end this crazy long post (making up for the last two weeks all at once?!), let me assure you (and when I say "you," I mean my grandmother, mother and aunts :) ) that I am fine. Every end in life presents a perfect opportunity for reflection and that's what I've been doing. I'm looking forward to pouring more time and energy into making my business more of a full-time job, continuing to volunteer at our church, and running (jogging?) a few days a week with a couple new friends in our neighborhood. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share these thoughts with all the mamas out there in hopes that maybe it will help someone pause, take a deep breath, and continue on calmly, appreciating whatever age/stage/phase their child(ren) happen to be in at the moment. Enjoy it. It won't be like this for long.

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