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.
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.
Here he comes.