Not All Accolades

To all the parents subject to end of the year festivities this week . . .

Maybe, amidst the pride for your child, there are other emotions.

Maybe the reminder that your child is another year older, another year closer to leaving your nest brings a sadness to the celebration.

Maybe all the social connections your child is making reminds you that her web is ever widening and you can’t climb each ring with her.

Maybe the fact that your child is not traveling in social circles makes you mourn the life you thought he should have had.

Maybe you’re dreading a long stretch of uninterrupted time with your child – not because you don’t love him, but because there are countless hours you are expected to fill and that’s an emotional burden your psyche is not prepared to bear.

Maybe you’ve done the math and know this is the year your child would’ve reached that big milestone – if he or she were still here.  

Maybe you’re just barely making it through the day and the thought of one more ceremony to attend is exhausting.

It’s okay for ambivalence, wistfulness, sadness, and annoyance to mix with the pride.

Parenting never asks just one thing of us.

I see it, I see you all.

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One Big Blob

The past few weeks have been a little trying. Our family seems to be on the cusp of something big. I can only say that now after these last few weeks. In the midst of running, running, running, it was all I could do to put one foot in the front of the other – or shuffle them along. I knew things were crazy, and was reacting accordingly, but I didn’t know why.

Now I wonder if my elevated stress levels and difficulty in calming them were not a direct result: my subconscious reaction to what my conscious self wasn’t ready to admit was a huge deal.

My five year-old, in her last year of preschool, more and more frequently laments the fact that she cannot ride the bus to big-kid school like the others. She wants to stay at preschool and eat lunch with her friends. She’s ‘reading’ books to me and asking how to spell different words.

My seven year-old is coming into her own, blossoming with independent applications of math reasoning she’s learned at school. She reads books aloud with an expression well beyond her years and worthy of an audio recording. She’s requesting and engaging in social interactions and activities – on her own.

My nine year-old has joined two after school activities, doubling her previous involvement. She is in her last year of elementary school; her last year of recess; her last year of riding the bus with her sisters. She is looking longer and leaner every day.

And me? I am nearing the destination of days full of adult time. All three of them will be in school full-day next year. I will be free to . . . earn the money we’ve sorely been missing since I’ve been at home? Write my way into posterity? Query until they can no longer say no?

I haven’t been gazing longingly at this point in time as the end all and be all. But it hovered like some kind of talisman – a time when, my life would go back to normal? When adult life (ie working, I guess) would resume? When I’d be able to exhale that breath I’ve been holding since the first labor pain of the first child?

And though my mind has set up the first day of the next academic year as the first day of this new life, I’ve finally realized that we’re all in the transition to it now. My five year-old is prepping to be the big girl – already a little too cool for preschool. My seven year-old is branching out in social groups – excited and a little less apprehensive to do so on her own. My nine year-old is claiming activities and beliefs as her own – independent from her parents and sisters.

Friends, acquaintances, and other parents always asked what activities my kids were in. I always thought I saw some semblance of shock when I answered, “None.” We didn’t do adorable dance classes at three years-old. We didn’t do t-ball, and soccer, and gymnastics, oh my. They never expressed an dire interest in any of these things and my husband and I never pushed it. There was plenty of time for that – and they would determine the time.

The time is now.

We may have avoided the cost and inconvenient schedules of such activities up to this point, but now it’s on. I’ve started the taxi-driver lifestyle I’ve avoided thus far.

It hit me like a ton of bricks last week when I rushed to finish an on-line Girl Scout leader training, compile fund raising monies, feed the kids dinner before we rushed to a Girl Scout meeting, dress them in Halloween costumes for a Girl Scout Halloween party, babysit one of their classmates, see my husband, help (nag) the kids to finish their homework, steal Halloween candy they’d acquired before even Trick-or-Treating, talk to my husband, smear their faces and hair with foul chemicals to turn them into unrecognizable ghouls for Halloween and rush late to another party after peeling countless tangelos to make festive pumpkin snacks – all while suffering from a compound case of sleep deprivation and PMS.

Unbelievably, it took me awhile to realize why last week was so hard for me to handle. Any week has the potential to be miserable. But when the everyday congeals into one big blob of ‘life is about to get a whole lot more complicated’, sometimes the blob is so frickin’ big it takes awhile to digest.

My girls are growing up! As wistful as I was watching them walk away from me for the first time, leaving them in the classroom alone for the first time, hearing ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Mama’ for the first time, those were mere speed bumps compared to this swift elevation. I have entered the ‘Mom, could you drop me off at so-and-so’s’ part of motherhood; the ‘Mom, pick me up after school’ part; the ‘We’ll be done at 4:15, Ma’ part; the ‘But I want to eat lunch with my friends, Mom’ part.

In addition to my ambivalent mom underbelly, I also have my own personal fears to fight. I’ve been home exclusively since 2008. The thought of returning to my previous job, even if I could even secure it, makes me want to vomit. Launching the totally exciting, yet daunting new idea I have for employment makes me want to seize. Not only am I being forced out of my old ‘job’ with all these developments, but forced into a totally new one.

All of our times, they are a-changin’. No wonder the woman, mom, worker in me is revolting.

from Blue-Cat00

from Blue-Cat00

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