Two for Theo

It began with with this unassuming envelope that Charlotte brought home in her folder from school. It wasn’t a surprise. We knew that the re-enrollment paperwork would be coming home for us to complete and return so we could let their school know our intention for next year, and if they would be returning….or not.

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That night, after the kids were in bed, I looked briefly at the packet. Everything appeared to be the same as in previous years, except this year it included two additional pieces of paper.

Two for Theo. Two pieces of paper for my four year old. My last Preschooler. My last baby. A couple of days later, and with the kids playing a made up game that only siblings can, I sat down and proceeded to fill out their paperwork, looked at our budget to factor in the re-registration fees, and then put the completed paperwork back in the envelope, where it’s now been sitting on the counter for over a week; mocking me.

It’s just an envelope, right? Well, no. Inside are the contents of what is happening, and what is to come. Listen, I’m the first to tell anyone who asks how excited I am that next year, I’ll have from 7-3 every day to myself. I have daydreams of all the things I’ll be able to get done for work, and reading (gasp!) during the day for leisure, and maybe drag my butt back to Barre classes again. I can meet with friends during the day for lunch without having to rush out and pick Theo up from his half day of Pre-K, or meet my husband for lunch without having to think if we’re going someplace that’s kid friendly. It seems really promising that I’ll finally have a chance to maybe consider slowing down, and re-focusing on how I want my day to day to flow, and not just getting through one more hour, or one more day with being pulled in different directions all day long by the demands of the kids.

But that stupid envelope still sits along the wall on the counter. It’s a reminder that for so many years, I’ve been waiting for this moment to know that I survived, that we survived. We made it through the first five or six years of their lives.-The part that was supposed to be the hardest. And, I’ve got to be honest-the hardest work is yet to come. The knee-jerk reaction of not knowing if I’ve done everything right in his almost five years. Have I taught him to be kind? Have I shown him how to forgive? Have I helped him to feel confident in who he is? Will he make friends? Will he understand that not everyone loves Pee-Wee Herman as much as he does? These are all questions that I know deep down I do in fact have the answers for, but I feel as if sealing that envelope and turning it in to school is some weird finality of his early childhood years. These past four years that I’ve been wishing would speed up, just so I could slow down for a moment. Because, the thing is-this is the slowest our lives will ever be, ever again. I’ve been so looking forward to time for myself that I think I’ve forgotten that my time has been here all along.

It’s been snuggled by a kid at my side an a stack of books in our hands. It’s been in wiping God knows what from walls, and folding endless loads of tiny clothes. It’s been in repeating myself over and again, and gently reminding that the dog is not to sit on, that no the cats don’t actually like when you pull their tails, and for the love can you just.stop.running.in.the.house….?

Because here’s the thing: whatever “phase” you’re in right now-it’s the most challenging one you’ve faced. And, we’re always looking forward to what’s on the horizon, not what’s happening right in front of us. I’m going to do what my kids have been trying to teach me for the past nine years.

I’m going to slow down.

I’m going to be mindful of what is happening right in front of me.

I’m going to learn by their example, because kids are the ones that already have it figured out.

It’s the adults that make it confusing.

 

It’s time to turn the envelope in. He’s ready.

Ready

or not,

Here he comes.

 

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From This Moment Forward

kindergarten-webiteIt’s happening.

My daughter starts Kindergarten in twenty-eight more days, and yes, I’m counting.

The thing is, since before she was born, I’ve been counting with her. In the beginning, it was just how many more days until I reached the next trimester of pregnancy, how many more days until Greyson was no longer an only child, and how many days could I possibly go past my due date before my Midwife gave her an eviction notice. Shortly after her birth, it was how many minutes she had nursed, how many hours we succeed in a certain brand of cloth diaper before a major leak, and how many hours I had left caring for two tiny humans before my husband got home from the day.

I can’t forget sleep-or the lack of. Charlotte did.not.sleep. Ever. A ten minute car nap between leaving the grocery store and home, was the equivalency of twelve hours of sleep on cold medicine. At her sixth month photo shoot, girlfriend was doing downward-dog poses, and by 8.5 months she was walking, closely followed by her running after her big brother, and her new obsession: our cat Marigold. How did one tiny person (as in only the 20th% for height and weight) have this much energy, curiosity, and pack more in a day as a tiny tyrant toddler of sleep smuggling? I counted the minutes it took to finally get her to sleep for the night, and enjoyed seeing when I got a full three hours and seven minutes of sleep before spending the next two hours and twelve minutes fighting with her to go to sleep again, as she sat on my lap touching my face as if she needed to memorize every fine line and worry wrinkle she was causing me.

And then, the unimaginable happened: we got pregnant again. My pregnancy with Theo is an entirely different story; one that I don’t like to talk about often, because it was miserable, intense, and full of fear. Instead of enjoying his pregnancy, I spent more time counting down the days when I would finally feel better again. We brought Theo home from the hospital, when Charlotte was 21 months old. And, guess what she did?

She slept through the night. From that moment forward, I knew that it would never be the same. Charlotte, unknowingly overnight accepted her title of not only being the middle child, but being the only sister; the small sister that we can all count on. The next morning is when I stopped counting with her.

Parents are told too many times that the years are short, and to enjoy every moment, and that it’s not okay to want to run away from your children. But, guess what? The years are too short. The years are full of enjoyable moments. It’s also okay to have too many demands to meet in the day in raising tiny humans that the thought of a true break seems fleeting, and guilty, and that it’s not okay to want to be away from the army of children that you’ve created. And, so to deal with the daily flow, we start counting again.

We count how many months until they are ready to potty train, and the months before they start Preschool, and the distance between older and younger siblings in school to consider the cost of their education and if, when, maybe, and how.

So, here we are. The days of counting on, planning for, and memorizing, have led to: your child is starting Kindergarten.

For those with children who are moving off to college, maybe you wish you could be sending your child off to Kindergarten all over again…I’m not sure. I’ve got years between now and then, and I’m not counting how long that time is.¬†For now, I’m going to sit here with my baby girl next to me, as she erases and draws again the horn on the Unicorn she’s been working on all afternoon. We’ve got nothing but time.