In the blink of an eye
A glimpse of my feelings the night before my three started 1st grade, which was their first year of all day school.
September 6, 2010
“If you have talked to me in the past few weeks (which is no easy task these days...I have laryngitis!), you know that I am not 'throwing a party' or 'celebrating' the first day of school. These are things people assume when they find out all three are going to be in school for a full day. Yes, I'm excited for my kiddos who are over the moon excited to be starting 1st grade with all their friends. But for me, I'm sad. Like broken heart sad that my babies are going to be gone from 8:19am-4:16 pm 5 days a week. That's a long time. All three at once. Anyone who tells you it will go fast...is right. I blinked and today is here. This is a day I have been dreading for 6 1/2 years, and it stings just like I thought it would. I'm adding responsibilities at Hope and know I will keep plenty busy. I know I will treasure those after school and weekend hours with my kids even more this year. I know that their joy in learning will far overshadow my sadness. But for tonight, I am sad to see this summer end. I'm sad to see this phase of life end. Tomorrow begins a new day, a new phase and joys untold.”
It felt at the time like everyone I met assumed I would be so happy to have my kids in school all day, when quite the opposite was true. In my heart I can still feel the constriction I felt as I wrote this piece. It was a sadness like I had never known. I ended my job teaching high school science when the kids were born, and proudly took on the full time job of staying home with them. This was something I had always known in my heart I would do; it was important to me. I spent years planning activities, playing games, traveling, building blanket forts, cooking, baking, reading and laughing. And snuggling. I took for granted that those days would never end, or at least they would move slowly. They did not. I made it through Kindergarten because at the time it was still only half day, but for me first grade was a big one. The hardest. I blinked and they were heading out in to the world for a full day.
And now, I blink again and they are one day away from wrapping up middle school. High school beckons. But first, summer. I am blessed to work in education, where I am home with my 3 for most of the summer. We will spend time planning activities, playing games, traveling, building blanket forts, cooking, baking, reading and laughing. And snuggling. This summer will look different, as one will head to Europe with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Symphony Orchestra, and one will fly off to Los Angeles with my parents for two weeks. It will be July before we are all back under one roof. That is weighing on me as this week draws to a close. I also know that since early days, we have encouraged our kids to seek adventure, to learn about other cultures, to try new food, to travel, to learn, to explore. They took that to heart, and are beginning to infuse it in to their own lives. Once we are all back home, we will have stories to share, pictures to look at, and a lot of hugs. I had a well meaning colleague tell me these experiences this summer are good preparation for me for when the kids go off to college. That stopped me in my tracks. 4 more years. 4. That looms on the horizon like 1st grade did all those years ago. And if I learned anything, it is that it will be here before I know it. I will blink and it will be here.
The surest way I have found to slow time, is to notice and delight. I have already learned how fast it goes, and I cannot stop it-nor would I want to because each day, each stage, is amazing. But if I pause to notice, if I am present without distraction-it connects me to the moments as they go by. By delighting in the small, ordinary parts of our days I am holding them close. So, that is what I will do this summer-and continue next fall when they head off to high school.
One day at a time, savoring each moment. For a while this summer, I will savor updates and pictures via text from a couple of my kids, I will savor one on one time with the one staying home. The only sure-fire way I can find to slow time is to notice and delight. This week I will notice the amazing 8th grade graduates. The ones who started life at 3lbs. The ones who are now taller than me. Who are strong athletes, and strong souls. Who are smart. And faithful. And amazing. One day at a time, savoring each moment.
Photo Credit: The amazing and talented Katie B. Photography