Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bittersweet September

I was warned that third grade was an adjustment. Much like a glowing pregnant Mama, I thought I understood and knew what I was about to experience. Like that same bleary eyed Mama a few weeks after birth, I am fumbling through, figuring it out and realizing this is a whole new deal.

In our school, third grade is when number grades begin...and homework ramps up significantly...and the school day is 30 minutes longer. Each of my three are playing a musical instrument (K-piano, P- electric guitar & R-cello) and have soccer & running practices. Throw in a midweek church night and the result is that I MISS MY CHILDREN.

I have a lot of time during the day to tend to all sorts of things. Because I am a stay-at-home Mom, I feel crazy pressure to NOT. WASTE. A. MINUTE. I am staying busy with good things. I have guardrails regarding afterschool time, which only seems to add pressure to everything that must happen before 4pm.

Most days, the children and I have a total of 4 hours together--and that includes hectic activities like getting ready for school, baths, bedtime, breakfast, dinner, chores and homework. It's really no time at all. Getting all ourselves and our gear place to place on time and with good attitudes. Doing "best work' at homework time in three separate rooms after a long, tiring day at school. Feeding people. Double checking independent 9 year olds to make sure they really bathed/read/cleaned/brushed...and largely doing so solo... can get a little tense! It's hard to check in on their hearts when I am busy nipping at their heels.

I want to make the most of the time we do have...but it's requiring A LOT of prayer for me to make these stressful times of day count. And as a Mama who theoretically has all day to be ready to receive, I feel extra pressure to be "on." I didn't spend all day at a job outside the home. What's my excuse?

When I blow it, UGH, the guilt.

I have entered into a whole new chapter of parenting--and, frankly, I am a little sad.

I don't want to hear anyone tell me that it only gets worse...because deep in my heart I know that the demands will continue to increase--and social lives will come into play. I'm having a hard enough time with the fact that I already have one in contacts and another in orthodontics. What happened to my babies?

I am reminded of this quote a friend recently shared from "A Bittersweet September Song" by Beverly Beckham:

My children love school. They are growing, thriving and stepping up to the new responsibilities. I know they will be better for this experience...and begrudgingly admit that eventually so will I. But I miss sidewalk chalk, silly dance parties and laid back afternoons of bike riding in the driveway.

I am reminded that THIS IS THE POINT of parenthood...not to keep them reigned in, but to slowly release them to walk/run/fly on their own.

It's just requiring a little adjustment for this Mama.


Diane Tohline said...

Being of a highly productive natured person, and having raised 3 children to successful adulthood, i would like to tell you - give yourself some slack. You have quite a job - with 3 children the same age. That is an incredible task.

Part of your "productivity" might be some daily down time, me time, relax time...because when it is your time to be on - you have to be really on. Your "on time" might be a short 4 hours long. But as you said - it is often solo. By the nature of 3 at the same age with similar demands - you are like the athlete that trains and train for a 3 hour game.

Since you most important time is your children time in this season - maybe high productivity is not your highest goal other times of the day!

JMom said...

There are seasons when I would have resisted your words...but I am starting to get it :) thank you

a portland granny said...

I think the advice from Diane is right on. As you describe your day, I can almost feel that feeling in the pit of my stomach for you.

I was a single Mom and I taught school and I can remember the evenings and week-ends. There was music lessons, sports for each one (different directions) a sit down dinner each evening if schedules allowed--it was like being on a runaway tread mill....but as I look back on it, those were the richest years of my life. At 81 sometimes I think back with fondness on the hustle and bustle of the growing up years which did go by fast.

Of course the prize is seeing your children in meaningful life's work and also....the grandchildren that come!! Oh my!

I've followed you since the children were small and you dressed them just like I think children should be dressed!! I used to love to see what they had on in the pictures you shared with us. I don't know you, but I believe that I have learned that you are a conscientious Mother in all areas and love your children without abandon! I'm afraid you can't slow down the growing up, so you have to get on the ride with them and enjoy it, altho it can certainly be bitter sweet.

Blessings, dear sister--you are doing good!!

HW said...

I also agree with Diane. It really is okay if you give yourself a break each day. I also did a lot of solo parenting when mine were little; my husband traveled for business a lot. At some point I started giving myself a lunch break. One hour to sit and eat quietly by myself. Sometimes I watched Andy Griffith. Sometimes I read while I ate, but I always gave myself that hour. It really did make a difference when 3 o'clock came and the REAL work began as the kids walked in the door.

Also, I won't tell you that things only get worse. But I will tell you that things do get better. You are in a busy phase, but each phase brings more independence. Soon you won't have to double check on hygiene issues; you can monitor homework less. Believe me, each phase, in a way, is better than the last. Every phase is magical. You have good things coming your way.

Perri said...

Thus the reason I homeschool. I was greedy with their time when they were young and now it's just a way of life for us.

Keri said...

Even before I read Diane's comment, I was wondering if you might be wise to schedule in some downtime for yourself during the day, rather than running yourself ragged and feeling almost depleted by the time school is out. I believe it would count as wisdom, and NOT idleness/laziness/whatever-sin-you're-tempted-to-call it, to refresh yourself during the hours that you're without the kids.

I remember hearing Barbara Rainey (Family Life Ministries) say that when she knew it was likely that there would be intimate time with her husband that night, she would make it a point to take a nap during the afternoon so that she had energy left to give to him. She emphasized that resting ourselves so that we're energized for our most important relationships is honoring to the Lord.

(I don't mean to sound preachy; please don't take it that way! If we were speaking in person, my tone of voice would convey understanding and compassion, so as you read my comment, please imagine it as such! :-) )

JMom said...

Keri- I didn't hear you as preachy AT ALL. Thanks for being thoughtful :)

megs7827 said...

That has to be so tough! You've gone from soooo busy with 3 newborns to have tons of time to yourself and then 3 kids come home and it's crazy for a few hours and I'm sure leaves you feeling like a tornado just happened. I have no advice just empathy.