Today marked the first day of the 2019-2020 school year. My two girls started 7th and 2nd grade. Both girls were in new spaces with new teachers, one middle school and the other a lower elementary classroom. In our cozy Montessori environment, new classrooms are a huge deal. Change does not take place every year and moving on to the next level can be scary and unsettling. The girls came out of school excited about their new spaces and ready to conquer day number two tomorrow. My little man begins 4 year old preschool in a few days, his first time heading out to school and away from mommy. With his new adventure in the classroom beginning, so starts a new season of motherhood for me.
For the first time in seven years, I have nine hours a week where all my children are in school, away from home, and away from me. At this time, I am also working 100% from home, so I will spend 9 hours a week in my house alone working without distractions or with the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. The idea is foreign, emotional, and exciting at the same time. My home buzzes with noise and activity, constant conversation and movement. So much so, that by child number three, I stopped working with music in the background. I no longer desire something to fill the silence, the silence no longer distracts me; it instead allows me time to focus my mind. I can assure you my younger self is shocked! For 7 years I have worked with my children as my soundtrack, asking them to quiet down every time the phone rings and allow me to finish my thought before I stop to make them a snack, solve a problem, find a toy, or enter a million other things moms do on a daily basis. Through the chaos and chatter, I pulled off a pretty productive life. I managed efficiency and success on my career path. I managed to keep my sanity and stay organized even with crayons all over my desk. I am curious what this new season of productivity, efficiency, and creativity will look like. Will I be distracted by the lack of activity that has been my norm for so many years? Time will tell the story of my new normal.
These nine hours a week of quiet also mark the end of my baby season. As my little man will tell you, “There are no babies here mommy. I’m a kid.” I no longer have anyone in diapers, no cribs or strollers, and everyone is too big for me to “wear” as we roam around town running errands. There is no nursing, no bottles, and normally no one up at 2am. (With active dreamers and insomniacs, sometimes I am still up at 2am.) All three kiddos feed themselves and can tell me what they want and need. The baby season is chaotic and exhausting, but it is also filled with laughter and cuddling, and connection. The first bonds you form with your children are so precious and form the foundation of what is to come in the future. The exhaustion and chaos is fleeting. It seems as if in a blink of an eye your precious newborn baby is almost 13 and in middle school, 7 and finding her way in 2nd grade, and 4 venturing off on his first solo adventure. My babies have grown into big kids with amazing personalities, each his or her own person filled with big ideas and things to tell the world.
So what comes next? I believe I have three seasons of big kids, all needing me in a different way. The oldest is searching for her identity and place in the world. She wants so desperately to be seen as mature and capable, but at the same time still needs reassurance and support. She needs me to know when to give her space and let her come to me with her problems, even when I so desperately want to take control and make it all better. I am her rock and foundation, but need to do so without crushing her independence. My sweet middle child is walking the line between dependence and independence. She is capable of doing things on her own, but it is faster and easier to ask mom to do them. She has a strong will and knows what she wants, but is also filled with anxiety, worry, and concern for others. So I walk the line between encouraging independence and giving support and guidance. I encourage her to tell me her worries, so I can remind her that I can handle the big stuff. As we navigate worries, I tell her we can handle anything life throws at us as a family. I am her safe space, the foundation for her to stand and grow. Finally, my energetic little man needs me the most. He is starting the journey into big kid land, but still has a lot of things to learn. I encourage his exploration and attempt to “do it himself”. I allow him to run and to fall, but am always there to help him back up. Three kids – Three Seasons – One Mom ready to do it all.
What season are you in today? Are you pushing through exhaustion and tears as you try to figure out this tiny, precious life you created? Are you rocking the big kid land, figuring out when to help and when to step away? Are you learning to parent young adults and adults – bigger kids with bigger problems for which you are more an observer than a participant? Whatever the season, embrace it. Embrace the good, the bad, the ugly, and the chaotic. There will be ups and downs in every season. Things will change, evolve, and yet somehow stay the same. Navigating the seasons is part of the journey. At the end of the road is a full life where someone called you mom.