This is the chapter of my life where even though my kids are old enough to be home alone, they are not old enough to get themselves to where they need to be. This is also the chapter of my life when my kids need to be everywhere, all the time, but never at the same time or the same place. Where we used to do summer road trips to different historical sites like Boston or Philadelphia, the trips we took this summer were to various soccer and softball fields for my kids’ games and tournaments. Whereas twenty years ago, I was in the wedding-planning chapter that required me to determine who to invite to the wedding and meeting new people on my honeymoon, the people I meet now are other parents who are in the same chapter of their lives who happen to have children playing on the same teams as my kids.
When my kids were younger I would often hear other people in the same chapter say things like, “I don’t even remember what life was like before having kids.”
“Not me!” I would exclaim. “I clearly remember what that life was like. I could sleep as late as I wanted to. I could leave the house without needing a military size duffle bag full of endless supplies of things I never knew I needed but now need back-ups of just to be safe. I could stay up late. I could swear and not have to worry about ‘little ears.’ I remember!”
I think people who had already finished that chapter would say things like, “The days are long, but the years are short,” but I was in a constant state of sleep deprivation, so I might be remembering that wrong.
By the time my oldest, Nolan, was four and Lilia was two, I was pregnant with our youngest, Oliver, and we were already juggling their hobbies. Nolan had soccer. Lilia started dance. We never looked back. You want to tumble? Okay. I’ll sign you up for gymnastics. You want to do baseball and soccer? Sure thing! Outdoor soccer season is over? No problem! Let’s do indoor soccer.
The challenge was, though I am a loving, invested, and committed mom, I’m useless as a soccer-mom, or any-hobby-mom for that matter. I don’t just have a full-time job, I have a still-have-work-from-home-after-working-at-work job. I have a job that means that sometimes, instead of being at my kids’ things, I’m at other kids’ things because the other kids have a concert or open house or family night. Moreover, I am a mom who doesn’t always find the things my kids do very appealing. I really, really have no interest in sitting and watching sports practices. Really.
So we ended the childbearing chapter when we realized that with two of us and three of them there were approximately 327,000 (give-or-take) practices, teams, parties, sleepovers, and who-know-what-else THINGS that they depended on us to take them to and that we would never be able to add even one more thing to the mix, so we couldn’t add one more baby.
Flashforward to September 25, 2021. Though I’ve never seen the movie Moana, I can’t stop a loop of the song, “How Far I’ll Go” from playing in my head because Oliver has been practicing it to try out for a part in the school musical and I’ve been helping him. Lilia had a three-game softball tournament. Oliver had a baseball game. Nolan and Oliver had karate lessons (because that’s what happens on Saturdays--not to mention Mondays and Thursdays). Thankfully, Nolan’s soccer practice was cancelled. I didn’t want to get up to go to Lil’s game and tried to convince myself that the work I had to do was a good excuse not to go. It didn’t work. I was awake. I had guilt. I love my daughter. I went. And I sat there with a lump in my throat with pride. There was my thirteen-year-old daughter who is taller than I am being awesome. She plays third and was catching balls, encouraging her teammates, and loving it. I had to leave to get the boys to karate, but I couldn’t wait to see the other games. That night we tried to watch a movie (that we couldn’t get to work) because it was our family goal to watch it that week so we could talk about it at our weekly family meeting on Sunday.
This chapter of my life won’t last much longer. Nolan will be able to drive next year and will graduate the year after that. Lilia is just two years behind him and Oliver just two years after that. I wanted them to be two years apart so that they could enjoy each other’s company. I’m still waiting for that to happen, but I’m pretty sure that will happen in a chapter soon enough. In the meantime, I think rather than skimming through this life, I’ll slow down and enjoy the chapter I’m in right now.
P.S. I got a lot of very positive response to last week's post, "Sink or Swim," which tells me that people are really struggling right now. I'm sorry for that. I spent time last week with Dana Britt (@danacbritt), an Associate Partner with Education Elements, who shared a video, "Bouncing Back from Burnout: Write a Love Letter to Your Organization," that I wanted to share with you that may be of help to anyone who is feeling like they're just treading water. In this video, Dana's colleague, Jason Broussard (@jasonrbroussard), encourages the viewer that sometimes remembering why we jumped in the pool helps give us strength to keep swimming.