A New Chapter is Upon Us- Kindergarten
As we are finishing up July, I can see the school year approaching fast. The summer has flown by! We’ve had quiet days, days where I thought I might lose my mind, crafty days, pool days, beach days, days that have turned into “mandatory glass of wine” evenings, and amazing family days. But where did the summer go? I remember how, when I was younger, the summers felt endless. Today, I blinked and it is almost over. I’m not ready to be on a schedule again. I love our late night movies and the mornings the kids trail down the stairs with bedheads and sleepy eyes whenever they feel like getting up. I don’t want to say goodbye to afternoon story time on the couch or impromtu picnics on the porch. With so much more, I have a pit in my stomach, but it isn’t just because summer is over.
This year my youngest will be entering Kindergarten. Big kid school! He will be going to the same school as my daughter. That’s right, they will be on the same schedule. One drop off time and location, one pick up time and location! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment!!! Running around and juggling the past few years, this feels like a huge milestone. The end of a marathon! I should be giving an enormous sigh of relief. Right? Wait, why do I feel like a whole mess of tangled anxiety??!!
When I was pregnant with Levi, we moved away from family for Brandon’s job. We decided that with his crazy schedule, no family around us, and uncertainty of his job locations, it was best that I stay home with the kids. For me, this was a dream!! It’s what I always wanted when I became a parent. I felt so lucky to get to be a SAHM. I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes thinking, “well how nice for you?” Well, it’s not to say that we did not struggle with the financial change of having a single income family. It was tight! We initially moved into a small apartment while Brandon was working on a TV show in Charleston. The three of us, 2 dogs and a baby on the way. We were trying to rent our house out in Ohio while we were paying for rent in SC, and meanwhile I was 5 months pregnant with our son. As much as we were struggling financially though, we still found every opportunity to have fun and enjoy being together as a family! We would walk the Ravenel Bridge up to the top to looks at boats every day. We visited a lot of playgrounds and walked the pier to watch the sunset in the evenings. We played at the beach any chance we got. When Levi was born, we didn’t have family nearby to lean on. We just had each other. Me and my gang. We were a little team! From then to now we have moved 3 more times. It has definitely been an adventure. We have had some incredible ups and some major lows through the years. I had times where I felt like I couldn’t please anyone, I wasn’t appreciated, I had no say in things because I didn’t bring in a paycheck, that I lost a bit of who I really was through the day to day of diapers, messes and tantrums. Although there were inevitable challenges, I am so grateful for every day I’ve spent with my littles and I’ve never regretted staying home.
My whole identity for the last 6 years has been “Stay at Home Mom”. The first time I sent my daughter off to Kindergarten, I had a baby in my arms. This time, my baby is the one that is going. And it’s not like I’m even worried about how he will do! He is a smart, sweet, well behaved boy and he is so excited for school. He is going to be just fine. But is Mommy? This new chapter is one that my children are both in school full time. Now what? I feel a little lost, honestly. Will I really have all this extra time that everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do with? Overnight I feel like I need to change my identity to someone I don’t even know yet! Without getting dramatic, I’m going through a little bit of a “Who am I” moment. So, for therapeutic reasons and for the sake of transparency, let me break down the fears I’m having about this new change and what I’m telling myself to try to overcome them.
My kids are getting older and don’t need me as much anymore– I am seriously getting teary as I type this one, because time is speeding by and I am sad that the days that my kids just adore me and want me all the time are going to dwindle. Mommy can still make everything better, from boo boo’s to feelings. This is such a selfish, but real fear. I know they are still young, but with how fast time has been going, I feel like I need to brace myself. Soon there will be friends, sports, activities and school filling their schedules and less moments I have with them all to myself. There will be a time that they won’t want to be around me! I mean, we are just starting Kindergarten for goodness sake, but I know how this goes in a few years. I was a teenager once! My poor mom!
Reality– The good thing is, I also know it comes back around because I am best friends with my mom and love to be around her as much as possible now. Also, this isn’t going to happen overnight. The kids still need me all the time (sometimes even too much) and that will change eventually, but not right now. So enjoy their affection and cherish it now. There are so many exciting things ahead to look forward to with their growth, accomplishments, and independence.
I won’t live up to expectations others have on what my life is supposed to look like– I know this is such a silly thing to fear because who really cares what other people think your life looks like, right? I’ve heard “So what are you going to do now that the kids will be in school?” “Are you going to work now?” “You have just been wasting your talents, so now you can do something about that.” (yes, someone has actually said that to me) In my mind I feel like everyone is just waiting for me to have some career all the sudden. I feel pressure to “make something of myself.”
Reality- Most of that pressure is pressure I’m putting on myself. The only thing that matters is what I think my life should look like and what is best for me and my family.
I will have to commit to a job that takes away from when my kids– I am a photographer on the side as of now, but I only shoot on the occasional weekend. So I either need to figure out how to make that more of a full time thing, or I need to find another way of making income. I have a real fear of not being able to find something that is flexible and then in turn missing out on the kids activities or family time. The most important thing to me is to be there for my family and not miss important moments in their lives. I realize that everyone has to make sacrifices in order to do what’s best for their family. I think I’m just scared of how that would make me feel personally.
Reality- There are jobs and ways to make money that are flexible with the school schedule. Since this is important to me, this needs to be a priority when deciding. I need to find something that fits with me and not change my life to fit with it.
Immediate Change– I have an overwhelming sense of anxiety about the first day of school. Like on that day I need to have it all figured out. I need to kiss my kiddies, send them off to school, put on my big girl pants and start the new part of my life.
Reality- Getting the ball in motion is what is most important now. Nothing has to be immediate. Just move forward. Take things day by day.
Taking care of “Me”– An extra 6 hours a day is ahead of me and all I feel is overwhelmed to be with myself. 6 hours where I’m not taking care of anyone (besides the dogs). Feels weird to even imagine. Is it strange to forget how to take care of yourself? So time to get all my doctors appointments in, make sure I’m working out sometimes, eating healthy and doing things that interest me or feed my creative soul.
Reality- I need to take care of myself so I can be healthy and strong, physically and mentally for everyone else.
So, yeah, that’s the honest, raw truth. This is all happening soon and it is what is filling my thoughts lately. But for today, I’m going to take it for what it is. Just today. And I need to take a deep breath and chill out, because even though this new chapter is ahead of us, today it’s still summer. And we have lots of playing still left to do…… while the kids still like me! LOL