Picture me 14 years ago. Married to Blake for six months, going to college, dreaming of Europe and a Masters Degree (so I could be a librarian) and living in bliss. Blind bliss. Blake says, “Do you think we should have a baby?” And I say “Huh?” Wait, oh yeah, we got married because we love each other and we want to have babies…..
Fast forward two years, we have Hailey. Our sweet red headed (that was a surprise), yummy cheeked baby girl. She is amazing and so sweet and exhausting in every way. We care for her and the three others who follow. Life is busy and funny and wild and hard. We do this for twelve years. I always have a baby or toddler or preschooler at home. I know what to do with this time. I know what to do with crying kids or fighting kids or sick kids. My days are full and there is very little time for breaks or “me time”.
Fast forward to six months ago. My baby (ok, he’s four) goes off to preschool for five hours a day. A program that is a blessing and I prayed about and knew would be great for him. But it is five hours a day and I am alone for five hours a day. The first few weeks, it’s strange but it flies by. Then the normal schedule settles in and I am lonely. I miss it, just as so many people had said. When the kids were being naughty at the store or church and the well meaning Grandma says, “You’ll miss this.” She was right! I miss these little ones (who have become big ones) and their games and imaginations and shenanigans. I don’t miss the fighting. I miss the snuggling in the middle of the day and the story reading. I miss the help with the little chores or gardening. I miss my companions. And they aren’t even out of my house yet!
I realize that in all the training I was doing for them, they had been training me. For every time I taught them to fold their clothes, they taught me patience. For every time I taught them to not fight, they taught me to love. For every time I taught them to do yard work or reading or cooking, they taught me fun, kindness and forgiveness. Of course, being on this end of things, it’s easy to say, “Wow, that went by fast.” and I know many of you are still in the trenches but “Wow, that went by fast.” I remember my young mom self thinking, “What I wouldn’t give for two hours of peace to read a book!” and now I have it and it is just weird.
This week the kids are on Spring Break and we are back to normal life, well, normal for me. Because this is what I am used to, the juggling and planning. I am used to always having someone to talk to. I am used to going to kid’s activities that I actually don’t want to go to. In all these years of mothering, I have stretched and learned so much. And I love it! Now, I have to learn how to stretch in a different way, how to make my own schedule and motivation. How to use my time wisely during the day when I don’t have little people watching my every move. It has been a growing and learning experience and one that I haven’t loved, honestly. But I know I will figure it out and in the meantime, I’ll just imagine that 22 year old girl with dreams of a Master’s degree and Europe and channel her. Yes, I am not that girl anymore, but I hope something better. I can be her and me and for now, that is just fine.
Left: 22 year old self on the Salt Flats with Blake, my nephew Ethan (now 16, what?) my brother and my dad. Right: Five years ago when we moved to Iowa and had William (this was right across the street from our house. How lucky/blessed were we.)
My current self, 36 years old. I know our stage will change and I wish I could pause time right now. Alas, I can’t, so I will enjoy it as much as I can.
Found the cute laundry quote picture here.