Home » randomness » Fifty-one days til Thanksgiving Break

Fifty-one days til Thanksgiving Break

Apparently we survived the first week of school. Everyone is accounted for, we’re all still walking upright and breathing, so I guess that’s a good sign.
Thanks to a last-minute (as in Sunday night at 9:00) carpool arrangement, I don’t have to clone myself in order to get everyone home from school and back out the door to where they need to be. Huge relief. Without the carpool, I would have to pick up the boys at 3:00, take Nathan to gymnastics at 3:45, drop him off at 4:00, leave to pick up Meghan from school at 4:10 (half an hour after the bell rings), take her home, go back to gymnastics, get Nathan at 5:00, take him home, then take Meghan to dance at 5:30.
I was starting to panic.
And that was just Monday.
But God heard my unhinged cry of “HEEEELLLLLP MEEEEE!” and promptly sent the Carpool Fairy to work some magic, and now all is right with the world.
New year, new teachers, new school (of the Middle variety for Miss 7th Grader), new beginnings.
The first few weeks of every school year is always crazy. There’s always a time of adjustment. We transition from no routine to insane routine. The first day is exciting and fun, and we’re running on adrenaline.  When the alarm goes off on Day Two, we’re over it. By the end of the week, we’re counting the days till Thanksgiving Break.
I vaguely remember days when my kids were not yet old enough for school. Those were the years of diapers and sippy cups and naps. That was the time when a simple trip to the grocery store was a two-hour circus act. That was the season of buttoning and zipping and tying, of tantrums and tears, of being needed all day long, every day, and occasionally at night. 
I remember mornings when Meghan was a toddler. Being the rule-following firstborn, she would stay in her bed and call for me to get her up. “MOOOOOMMMMMYYYY! I WANT SOME BREK-TESS!!!” My ears are still ringing. She would then sit contentedly in her high chair while I prepared hot scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.
Griffin, who was neither rule-following nor firstborn, would greet me every morning by sneaking into my room and slapping his hand on the mattress next to my sleeping face. His guttural giggle was the first sound I heard after peeling myself off the ceiling. Then I’d stagger into the kitchen and pour a bowl of Cheerios.
And then there was Nathan. I had to wake Nathan and plop him directly in the car seat while his eyes were still half-shut because we had big kids to take to school. Then I’d hand him a sippy cup of milk and a cereal bar to eat while we drove.
Today, all three wake up when their alarms go off, they dress themselves, go downstairs, and prepare their own breakfasts and pack their own lunches.
I know some women miss the days of babies and toddlers and preschoolers, and they mourn when their babies enter kindergarten. While I miss the cuteness and innocence and sweetness, I would not want to repeat those early years. I was not a mom who cried about kindergarten. I totally celebrated our newfound freedom – for me, and for my child.
Michael and I have three nephews and two nieces, all under the age of three. We love on them, kiss them, play with them, tickle them, read to them…and then we give them back and go home to enjoy a full night’s rest.
Two of our nephews are three years old, and our brothers and their wives are quickly learning what we’ve known for years: whoever coined the term “terrible twos” did not have a three year old. Oy. Those years are hard. But for Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Michael, our nephews’ disobedience and tantrums are downright adorable. Because we’re not responsible for them! And we’ve been there. We’ve soooo been there. And we’re so thankful to not be there anymore. So we can laugh. Someday our brothers and sisters-in-law will laugh, too. But not for a while.
Our issues now are not tantrums and defiance and disobedience. Today we deal with hurt feelings and sibling rivalry, peer pressure and school pressure and time pressure.
(Also a healthy dose of defiance and disobedience thrown in for good measure.)
The exhaustion of parenting babies has been replaced by the chaos of the calendar. It’s a different kind of tired. Although they are now more independent and responsible, they still require a chauffeur. Instead of chasing little monsters around the house, I’m driving them all over town. Instead of changing diapers, I’m hounding them to clean their own bathrooms. Instead of playing dress-up, I’m calling out spelling words. Our weeknights and weekends are overflowing with homework, projects, practices, rehearsals, meetings, birthday parties, games, and performances. 
I always swore we would never be one of those families. The ones who run their kids everywhere every day, never eat a meal together, pass each other in the driveway. So we decided that each kid could do One Thing. Okay, maybe One and A Half things. And church. 
But the One Thing meets two or three times a week. Multiply that times three kids, and you’ve got a full calendar and a ginormous gas bill. The promise to eat dinner together every night turns into eating together as much as possible or four of the five of us eat together. We do the best we can. And most days, that is enough.
Let me repeat, We do the best we can. We know our kids. We are crazy about them. We recognize their strengths and their talents, we are very aware of their limitations. I promise, we have many MANY grand moments of family bonding and fun and silliness. We laugh together a lot. We read to each kid every night before bed – even Meghan. Especially Meghan. We pray with them and for them. We take our jobs very seriously.
So the busyness? I think it’s just a season of life. Just like the butt wiping, sippy cup finding, tantrum curbing season. It’s every bit as exhausting. Just different.
I don’t long for life to slow down. I’m trying not to wish away these days. I’m attempting to embrace the chaos while embracing my children. I know how quickly the days and months and years pass, so I’m trying to soak it in while keeping all the balls in the air. It’s hard. And most evenings, after the kitchen is cleaned and the kids are tucked in and read to and prayed over, I collapse on the sofa and wonder what I accomplished that day. I wonder how badly I messed up. I wonder if I’m doing it right. I wonder if anything should change.
Mostly, I wonder what flavor of ice cream hides in our freezer. Because, man, I need it. And usually, Michael brings me a bowl so I don’t have to get up. Because I can’t move.
Eventually I stand up, stumble to my bed, and stop thinking about all my mistakes and everything that awaits me the next day. Eventually I sleep.
Until the alarm goes off – again – and I mark off another day til Thanksgiving.

(PS: Tell me about your season of life. Where are you? What, if anything, do you wish could change? What wouldn’t you change? What are you looking forward to? And if you have teenagers, talk to me. Tell me what to expect and how you survive.)

6 thoughts on “Fifty-one days til Thanksgiving Break

  1. We're in the thick of all those stages of life still … a teenager, one who is almost a teenager, two kindergarteners, and an almost two year old. They all require such different things. I often say that the younger ones are physically tiring but the older ones are emotionally/mentally tiring. I feel like the older ones are at such a crucial time in life – making choices based on all that we've tried to teach them and hopefully embracing a God-focused life for themselves. I love the teenage years but I think they require much prayer, much trust, and much faith.

  2. We have three ranging from 7 to 19 months and talking about having a fourth. There are times when I get a glimpse of life with "big kids" like when we eat out or leave the little one with a babysitter to go to a big kid activity. I cherish these days of chaos because I know too soon they will be long gone. At the same time I am ready for no more diapers.

  3. just found your blog the other day & your writing tugs at my heart 🙂 i have a very sassy 2 yr old daughter & am currently 4mo pregnant. i'm really trying to relish this season & give my girl lots of love & attention b/c i know once Deuce comes along, chaos will ensue!

  4. (I know I'm leaving you a lot of comments. Feel free to space out the reading of them. But the more I read, the more I don't want to stop reading. Unfortunately, dinner needs to be made. I think, were you not in Texas or I not in Maine, we could be good friends. Anyway…)Your last three paragraphs were my favorite. They sound like me and my husband (except that you actually get up and go to bed. I'm working on that). And I laughed right out loud about peeling yourself off the ceiling.I personally, am in a toddler/kindergartner/grade-homeschooler/middle schooler phase. I'm okay with the younger three. I do not know how I will survive the older one. But God has graciously recently given me a little insight that I'm testing out. We'll see.

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