Friday, May 31, 2013

The Last Day of School

The last day of school has always been a bit sad for me. 

When I was a student, it was sad to say goodbye to teachers and friends for the summers.  Sad to know another year was in the books and that the next year would be different.  Sad that I was one year closer to being "done" with my school years. 

When I was a teacher, it was sad to say goodbye to my kids.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed my summers, but when you teach, each year is different.  You learn to love those little personalities in your class.  You build relationships.  Bonds.  It's heartbreaking to let them go. 

Now that I'm a mom, it's really sad.  My little one is only in Preschool, but the last day of school marks the passing of time.  Growing up.  Knowing that I'll never get this year or this age back.  If you would have asked me a year ago how I felt about my baby growing up, there would be no sadness involved.  In fact, all of the moms that I was friends with seemed sad when their babies hit a milestone.  They were happy to celebrate the milestone, but there was an underlying sadness that their baby was growing up.  I never felt this way.  At all.  From birth until about the age of 2, I was NEVER sad when the munchkin hit a milestone.  Only relieved to have another under the belt as we marched towards childhood and out of baby and toddlerhood. 

Now, I feel different.  I think it's because I am not a "baby" person.  I LOVE holding babies...and playing with babies...but having one ALL THE TIME is different. It makes sense too, because when my husband and I decided that we wanted to grow our family, I didn't picture myself with a baby.  I pictured myself with a handful of KIDS.  Playing sports.  Activities.  Having conversations over dinner.  Spending quality time together. 

In the past few weeks, my child is quickly growing out of the toddler phase.  We can have conversations--not deep, meaningful life changing conversations, but he can communicate with me.  Which is so cool!  We can sit down and watch a short movie together--with popcorn or a treat.  We can share something with him--like bubbles, or building a sandcastle and he is in awe!  A few months ago, he wasn't interested in any of that...only movement and physical challenges--which was so hard and exhausting for us. 

Now that he is entering that "kid" phase...the sadness and nostalgia has hit.  This is his last day of school for this year.  I'll never get these days back.  My baby isn't a baby anymore, and as we move forward, time will only speed up.  How silly is it to be sad about being an empty-nester when your child is 2?!?!   

And older adults agree.  Their advice is full of, "enjoy it now, it passes all too quickly" and "it goes by so fast" which are two phrases that can send an exhausted mom in the trenches into a tirade!!  But it's true.  And deep down we all know it.  Older women stare longingly at me and the munchkin in the grocery store and I can tell by the look on their face that they are missing their baby.  The sweet days when they had their baby home with them.  When I see their faces, I know it's real.  This feeling that the days are long, but the years are short. 

This time we get with our children is short.  And then, all too soon, they are off--and living their own life.

So, my challenge for the summer is to live in the moment.  Be kind and patient.  Be fun and adventurous.  And soak it in.  Because before I know it, school will be starting up again. 

Happy Last day of School to all the mommas, teachers, and kids out there!  May you all have a beautiful summer! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is motherhood?

Throughout my life, whenever I'm about to move into a new phase of life--whether it be college, marriage, military life, or motherhood--I always like to ask questions to the people who are currently IN the phase, or have gone through it.  "You've been married for 40 years?  What's your most important piece of advice?"  "You have four kids?  What do you miss the most about the age that my child is now?  I want to make sure and soak it up now while he is young."  "You're a military wife?  What the best piece of advice for moving you've ever received?"  And so on.

Often, people are taken aback when I ask.  They aren't prepared to share their MOST valuable advice.  They turn their head to the side, sigh, and ponder the question.  And sometimes, I get a great answer...and sometimes, I get a shoulder shrug followed by, "Work hard."  "Forgive."  "Hug them more." 

While these answers are good, they don't really satisfy my insatiable need for insight into the human life.  While thinking about this the other day (while cleaning up the 8th spill of the day), it occurred to me that I wanted to answer this question about motherhood--for myself, and for others if they are interested.  Not merely advice.  But what is it about? 

What is motherhood? 

Motherhood is feeling desperate for a break or to get away from your young, dependent child, yet knowing that if you do "get away" even for a few hours, you'll miss something.  Or, you'll just miss them.

Motherhood is being exhausted, but never sleeping the same again! 

Motherhood is gladly enforcing punishments and consequences.  Motherhood is dreading having to be the "enforcer."

Motherhood is letting your toddler drink from a cup because he or she insists, and angrily calmly cleaning up the mess each time they spill it.

Motherhood is wanting the independence you once had before you had your kids, but feeling like a superhero when you are the only person who can kiss a boo boo and make it better.

Motherhood is falling in love with your spouse all over again when you see them with your children, but often being too tired to show it. 

Motherhood is a different body, where imperfections are no longer imperfections.  They are memories and represent life.  (Don't believe me?  Wait until your child learns that they came from your belly.  Look at the wonder in their eyes.)  Your body is beautiful.

Motherhood is the constant battle between fixing the problem right away, or teaching a lesson.  Giving in to what your toddler wants versus giving them what they need.

Motherhood is knowing that you are spending all of your time and energy on teaching, growing, shaping this little person that will eventually leave you and build a life apart from you. 

Motherhood is laughing and crying in the same sentence from exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, or just feeling like you have no idea what you are doing.

Motherhood is still getting out of bed to take care of kids, run carpool, and make lunches when you have the flu. 

Motherhood is crying about things that haven't happened yet.  Graduations, first days of school, the day they are too old to be rocked....silly emotions. 

Motherhood is doing whatever it takes to get them to sleep.  Seriously....sleep. 

Motherhood is relentless.  At EVERY stage.  Whether you're nursing for every two hours.  Or you're telling your toddler no use better choices five hundred times a day.  Or you're answering the question, "Why?" all day every day.  Or you're holding firm on standards--homework, appropriate attire, appropriate behavior, please and thank you.  Motherhood is constant. 

Motherhood is the bliss found in the first moments, the long awaited moments, and the still moments.  When you look at your child's face and you have time to study it.  Or, when your child does something and you are reminded that you are not failing.  That this person you're raising is taking the form of the person you hope them to be someday.

Motherhood is a whole new set of hours, and a whole new set of priorities.

Motherhood is never realizing how much your mom loved you until you have kids of your own.

Motherhood kissing the back of their neck and soaking that smell in.  Knowing that their giggles won't last forever.  Drinking in the moments and slowing down to enjoy the little people that they are becoming. 

Motherhood is beautiful. 
And rewarding.
And hard. 
And consuming. 

What is motherhood to you?

Make sure to hug a mom this Mother's Day--especially if her husband is deployed!     

For all the moms out there, Happy *almost* Mother's Day.  May you have a day of no diapers, relaxation, appreciation, and sleeping in! (Or whatever suits your fancy!)