Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hold My Hand?

Last night I had a mini-breakdown as I stirred spaghetti noodles. The day had been crazy with a capital K and by 8:00 I had sworn off Wednesdays for the rest of my life. 

We have tweaked and re-tweaked our fall schedule and it looks like we're going to overhaul it yet again. Sometimes you just don't know how it's all going to work or not work until you make like Nike and just do it. Some things are working. Some things have been a train-wreck. I remind myself that it's not failure or even crazy, it's simply trial and error. 

It's also change.

I've always been just fine with change. Change invites opportunities to reinvent and makeover, to embrace new and exciting and fun. At pivotal moments in my life, I've moved across the country, made new friends at schools where I knew no one, tackled topics and endeavors about which I knew nothing, and traveled to countries where I didn't speak the language. I currently have three different colors of paint on my living room walls. For 39 years, my motto has been Bring It. 

But when it comes to my kids and change? Well, I become a ball of fear and sadness and nostalgia run amuck. My motto goes from Bring It to Stop It. My bossy mantra refers to the clock, not my kids. {Though I do tell them to Stop It quite a lot.} 

I watch my younger sister and sisters-in-law mother their younger ones and I want to switch places. I want to take the knowledge and priorities I have now and get a big fat do-over. I want my days to be filled with nothing but read-alouds and playing outside, legos and PB & J's. And also nap-time.  

As they get older, they get busier and that means I do too. As more is required of them, more is required of me. Older moms reading this are probably thinking, Just wait 'til they're in high school! Younger moms are thinking, I never get a moment's rest! And you're both right.

Maybe I'm simply approaching the realization every mom faces sooner or later. The days that used to feel so hard were actually much simpler. And right now, I equate simple with sweet. Sure, they were hard in different ways--temper tantrums in the middle of Target and calcified baby oatmeal stuck to the walls, sleepless nights and diaper blow-outs in the car-seat. Every stage is hard in its own way and I'm sure we look at certain seasons through rose-colored glasses.

But last night I watched my younger two play with neighbor friends in the driveway while I fixed a late dinner and counted down the minutes until I had to retrieve our oldest from youth group. Not so long ago she would have been out there with them, writing with sidewalk chalk and playing "spies." 

And this is why I wept in the spaghetti. I'm sure that the day's relentless schedule and various mishaps contributed to the tears, but mostly I was just rebelling against the hands of time that will not stop ticking. 

I'm no good at acceptance and I do know that clinging too tightly to anything has a strangulating effect. Maybe that's why it feels hard to breathe, why I choke up a little when I watch the "baby" of the family scale the flimsy limbs of the Crepe Myrtle in his Spiderman costume and I want four to last forever.

And this is why we will revise and revise again until we've squeezed out the most possible time for family and the least possible time doing the run-around. The days are precious and they pass so quickly. 

Driveway tennis and tiny super-heroes remind me to savor the simplicity {mess and tantrums notwithstanding} of the younger years. Commutes to school, just her and me, remind me to drink down these days when she's in the passenger seat. I'll blink and she'll be driving herself to school. 

So if you think I'm a mess now, I will really need some hand-holding then. 

And maybe that's what we moms need most from each other. I'll listen to your advice, I'll find comfort in your stories, I'll try not to compare or judge or envy. But what I really need, what we all need, is just a bit of understanding and consolation. Motherhood is hard and change makes me cry. So give me your hand. And also a box of Kleenex. 


  1. Oh, yes. Being that you're three years ahead with your girl, you've hit all these changes/milestones just far enough ahead of me that I can see them on the horizon, and the anticipation of them nails me to the wall every time.

    I took my kids to the zoo three weeks ago, and I was heartbroken. Sure, it was the first time I didn't have to hold hands with/carry someone/push a stroller/wear a baby *constantly,* I had to force myself to enjoy the freedom, because all I could think of was their little chubby baby legs waddling down those sidewalks, faces pressed up to the glass... And it had this strange effect of making me sad, and thankful, and want a new baby all at once.... I've been eyeing new mamas (Sarah) with similar envy for the simplicity... and no, I haven't forgotten I was... ;)

  2. Well, when you do have a happy surprise child and you are much more confident and laid back and basically justify spoiling her with phrases like, "Oh letting her have another cookies is not a moral crisis," you end up with someone like our baby. She is not on board with the potty training because she doesn't like it. And when you use tactic that you did with your sons, like "Don't you want to be a big girl?" it totally backfires in your face. "No, I want to be THE BABY 'cause I am THE BABY." Her brothers fight for her attention and do everything she says. So, at least I was a lot more up-tight with the older ones and they will become productive members of society.

    I can feel your nostalgic pain. It's hard when you suddenly pay enough attention that you recognize they are HUGE now. About once a week, I force my kids to let me hold them like a baby. Strangely, they think it's hilarious and comply. But this week, the oldest one was so enormous, legs all sprawled out and basically holding himself up with feet touch the group, I was just disgusted. I grabbed the middle one, who REALLY adores the affection and has the decency to ball up a little so I am not faced with the grim reality of his growing size.

    I'll hold your hand if you'll hold mine. :)

  3. Wonderful post. I see my Emily everyday in her 20 year old body, and long for the 10 year old, or the 3 year old, or the 3rd grader, or the kindergartner. Yes time is cruel but there are still moments even now, where I can come to the rescue and let her not be all grown up just yet.

  4. I am right there with you, simultaneously mourning their younger days and working very hard to enjoy their right now days. I miss the baby years, as hard as they were. And now we are juggling activities, trying desperately to carve out just one more minute of family time. I grateful for friends with little ones, simply to relive those days through them.

    Us moms, we require lots of kleenex, that is for sure!

    Praying that you find the right balance of activity and family time, what is just perfect for where you are right now.

  5. Oh my goodness. All I do is cry now. Letting go and also grasping school is so hard. We get through one week just to have another slap us in the face. Tonight is Friday night and I was hoping to take a breath but now I find a huge project is due Wednesday for my oldest.

    I, at this point, really do not like them being in school. Keeping up with four schedules is way harder than homeschooling them. And the amount of homework? Really?

    I cry over anything. I watch them growing up. My baby is 13, soon to be 14. I told Danielle's birth story in the car today as I drove her to 2nd grade. And she is my YOUNGEST!!

    If I thought I felt overwhelmed homeschooling I feel even more overwhelmed with them in school. I hate picking them up and finding out we have MORE work to do. Why can't the end of school day just be the end of school??

    Then there is lunch money, buying food for lunches, and everything else parents who send their children to school already know how to do. I've been trust into a world in which I thought I would find rest and I'm more tired than EVER...don't forget...confused & frustrated. Weepy. Feeling like I"m losing my mind and just thinking WHAT DID I DO????

    I need that Kleenix too!!!

  6. well, i was ok until you got to the oldest at youth was yesterday yours and mine were engrossed in transforming a bedroom into barbie world...the memories! what a sweet blessing to be able to say "remember when...?" yes, i will hold your hand!

  7. So glad to have stumbled upon your blog...
    "I was just rebelling against the hands of time that will not stop ticking."

    Mine are 14,13, and 10... send the kleenex!

  8. I recently started reading your blog -- I think I found you through Mama Loves Papa. I appreciate "hearing" your thoughts...I have four kids (Atticus, 6; Dietrich, almost 5; Lincoln, 3.5; and Thea Belle 2). My oldest is in first grade this year and this is the first year we don't have a baby or one coming. I feel the changes too. And I don't do well either. Fighting and praying to walk that line of thankfulness and doing-it-ness and leaning into the way God has made time. I think the fall in the air has always made me restless and sentimental...Anyway, thank you for writing.

  9. I found your blog through Aubrey Tell a while back and have decided to stop stalking and comment. EVERY post I read of yours I identify with almost completely. Our kids are different ages but my struggles are so much like yours. I so appreciate you sharing.

  10. I watched my oldest, now a high school freshman, compete in his first high school cross country meet yesterday. As I watched him prep for the start of the race in the middle of the football field, my eyes filled with tears as I sat surrounded by parents on the bleachers. My blond, curly headed boy was a young man. When the race was over, he had the option to go home with his dad and me...but he wanted to stay...with the team. I smiled, told him I loved him, and walked away before the tears resurfaced. This act of guiding them into adulthood is so hard on a mother's heart. Thank you for writing your heart for us to are an encouragement for the soul.


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