Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hold On


A month or so ago, I had an epiphany.

It must have been a Tuesday night, because Cory was at a meeting late. I'm sure the kitchen was a mess, the house was loud, and I was gearing up for that awkward hour that falls between dinner and the bedtime wind-down. "Everyone needs to go take their shower," I said.

And they did.

They scattered, grabbed their pajamas, adjusted the water temp, scrubbed their bods, washed their hair. I didn't help with a single step of the routine. They returned to the living room in cozy pants with wet heads and a distinct truth landed in my heart - I have arrived.

I've entered my second decade of parenting, barely, but still. It's strange to even type those words. It's difficult to imagine that my forties are closing in (two months away!) and even now, as I sit on my couch and type with the morning sun streaming into my *silent* house, I find it impossible to retrace the trajectory from then until now. 

I remember waking up to a houseful of pre-schoolers and toddlers. Nowhere to go, and honestly, why bother? The first stretch was always the easiest, those hours where yesterday's games felt new again, before the afternoon monotony and the fighting and the dinnertime-prep hour of doom.

I remember stirring something at the counter (what was I stirring? soup? salad dressing? powdered cheese into macaroni?) with a screaming baby at my feet. I'd hand down plastic measuring cups or a wooden spoon, "Look at this, buddy!", feigning brightness when all I really wanted was take-out and a nap. I wanted bedtime to fall softly on our good earth. I wanted to not be needed every second.

If I sound like a granny right about now, it's probably because I am one. Or, it could be because I took Calvin to his middle school orientation last night and I'm not sure when I'll recover.

Ruby does her own hair, most mornings.
They're allowed to go to the park with out me.
Just yesterday, Silas removed his own splinter without us even knowing it was there.

I could hum about time marching on, and I know you'd hum along. This retrograde longing is nothing new. But when it comes down to it, I wouldn't go back. Scratch that. I would, but only for a day or two. I wouldn't mind feeling the weight of my two-year old in my arms for a while and I would fight lions to hear Ruby's lisp again. I miss rocking Silas before bed each night during that first year, promising we would never leave him and that no one else could ever have him.

But if being a mom has only taught me one thing, it's this: wherever we are is the sweet spot.





Ruby has taken to accents. She sings like she knows things, and lately, she's not even worried if we hear her. She's beginning to understand the complexities of her beginnings. She's tired of all our fuss over Asian food. "When can we eat like my people?" she asked, though food from Malawi is more ordinary than she hoped and she can't stand fish. She's obsessed with MLK, though she simply calls him "Martin". Her best friend is Dante, and he said he's moving away.





 
Silas wore his "tuxedo" for Spring picture day. In case you wondered, it's black athletic pants with a red stripe down the side and his navy blue suit coat with a white t-shirt underneath. He's working on all kinds of things, like not saying "bad" words just because he knows them, and figuring out what to feed all his animals on Mine Craft. He'd like to learn Excel and how to type. He discovered the remote control for his moon also operates his flashing light. Two days ago, he had to walk laps at recess and think about his behavior. Yesterday, he tried "even though it was so, so hard" and had one of his best days in months.




Calvin keeps asking me to teach him how to cook, but is usually too busy reading when five o'clock rolls around. He's smitten with his violin, obsessed with Korean culture, and just in the last month has started caring what his hair looks like before he heads off to school. He's been asking hard questions about church and God. He wishes he could know his birth mom, like Ruby does. He's not the best at sports, but he still loves to play. His glasses are forever smudged and sliding off his nose. He's an early-bird to the end and hopes to join Robotics next year. He's committed to working through some complicated emotions and he's choosing love when it's hard. Pokemon is everything to him.


I love this life.
I thought it was my favorite back when I buckled them all into car seats and drove down the street to the library just to kill an hour, but I was wrong.


This is my favorite, this moment I'm in, where we ride bikes and stay up a little later together. I like this one, where they haul their laundry baskets down and I fold the warm shirts and jeans I would have sworn would never fit them. I choose today, with spring jackets, orchestra practice, and the reading log hanging on the fridge. I'll take the fit Silas will throw sometime around 4pm - now, it's always followed with "I'm sorry" eyes and a heart that can't stop loving me. I can handle the bickering. And if they don't like dinner? Well, they'll eat it anyway. We all know the drill.

This is the good stuff, and I'm passing it on to you, wherever you are.
I'm not saying we have to seize the day, but we get to hold it - like a gift.

So we do.


*Photos courtesy of CMB (Cute Maintenance Boy aka Cory, for those of you who are newish) ;)

32 comments:

  1. Yes! Wherever we are is the sweet spot. Sometimes where we are is weird. I'm learning to love that weird. Teenagers and elementary school kids is weird. But I laugh a lot. That has to be a good sign.

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  2. Ahhh! I was just thinking this exact thing last night (and for the past few months!). My son is 12 now and cracks me straight up most days. For example, after a couple days of exceptional behavior, he came to me and said.."I think I'm having puberty. I'm being so mature now!" :) He is so funny and loving and infuriating and full of joy and love and all.the.stuff. and I wouldn't change it for the world. Except how math homework goes, I'd change that. Love this so much! Thank you for sharing your heart! <3

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  3. My daughter's first grade teacher once sent home one of those sappy poems for Mother's Day about the mother wishing she'd had known when it was the last day that the child would do something they would grow out of. Of course it made me cry and I thought I wish I had known it was the last day my daughter would need to be snuggled for the first hour of her day. She's 17 now (and thankfully still snuggly) and I have grieved over different milestones, first day of pre-school all the way thru fourth grade, turning 13, making a spreadsheet trying to decide which college she'll attend.... But I agree with you Shannon, every age is a good age and so very wonderful with all it's joys and challenges. The hard part is remembering to just live in the now. The best part is I never wonder when was the last day I changed a diaper!

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  4. This must be a common feeling at this age. It IS the sweet spot for parenting. My baby turned 10 on Monday and I wrote about really similar things...after having not written a word in that space for over a year. There's something about knowing that time is slipping away and being fine with it at the same time. It is happening! They are growing up! This is what we set out to do! It's a pretty exciting time. :-) http://omahamama.blogspot.com/2016/04/ten.html

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  5. Hi Shannon! I'm one of those readers that never comments (sorry!). Anyway, GREAT post!!! I have 3 littles 9, 5 and 3 and miss the baby moments SO much. Thank you for making me realize that I need to love every stage and live in the moment. THANKS!

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  6. Aaahhh those sweet spots keep getting sweeter girlfriend!! I love that you have arrived ❤ your people are so fabulous and so blessed to call you theirs!!

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  7. Aaahhh those sweet spots keep getting sweeter girlfriend!! I love that you have arrived ❤ your people are so fabulous and so blessed to call you theirs!!

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  8. Hi Shannan! Thanks for the great reminder that we don't have to seize the day, but we do get to hold it. We have three teenagers and 10 year old now. Our senior is experiencing some hard, gossipy drama at school and it is so painful, for him and for us. I sobbed to my husband last week, "Why can't they just stay in elementary school?" But all the days are given by God and He won't leave us alone in any of them, even if we just don't know what to do. I am grateful for that.

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  9. I love love love this post. Thank you.

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  10. So beautiful and so true. I tried to cherish every moment and not grieve as each season passed, trying to remember guiding them to independence is our job. I never wanted to be that mom crying all of senior year, and I succeeded in that. The real sweet spot? Being friends with them as adults and being amazed at how well they've turned out. God did some mighty work in spite of dumb ol' me.

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  11. This was poetry! Thank you for the reminder of what I deep down knew. Not to just get through the day, but value it and enjoy it because one day we will, like you said, fight lions to have them back. Great post!

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  12. these pictures are great, and, trust me, you'll be so glad you did this when you're thinking back on their childhood on graduation day and all you can think is that it's over. start keeping your eyes open all the time, honey, because the next 7 years are going to go by in a BLINK. A BLINK, i tell you! today is a gift. that's why we call it the present. see what i did there?

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  13. Thank you so much!!!! Absolutely needed this!! My youngest is 17, almost done with his junior year. Since he was in middle school he's wanted to join the military, the Army specifically. It's becoming more and more of a reality with his senior year of high school fast approaching. Yesterday he told me he can enlist in his senior year and the recruiter will come to the school to speak to him. I asked if his dad and i needed to be there too. He said no because they will also be coming to our house to talk to us about everything. Well that just made things a little too real for me!! Couldn't stop crying, still don't really know why. How did we get here sooooo fast??!! Thank you for reminding me that yes, the younger years may have been the good ole' days, but today is good too and the days to come will be just as good if not better. Deborah Cronin

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  14. This is just what I needed today. I have 14 month old and have already feel nostalgic for this time, even as it's happening. This post is such an eye opener about all the good that will come when the baby days are over. Thank you!

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  15. Love this! And, yes, I'm finding enjoyment in each stage my boys grow into. It is all about enjoying the journey along the way.

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  17. You nailed it! As usual, thank you from a stay at home mom in Georgia

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  18. Very good, and God's continued blessings on you and your family ~ FlowerLady

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  19. I am a mama to 4 also - my kids are 16, almost 15, almost 4, and almost 2. (We have 3 birthdays over the course of 17 days!) Anyway, I have been through the baby, preschool, elementary, and middle school years, and now we are in the midst of high school. Now that we have a second set of little ones, it is an ever constant song in my heart about how fast it goes. You have captured the bittersweet feelings of parenting so beautifully ... I love when you say "But when it comes down to it, I wouldn't go back. Scratch that. I would, but only for a day or two. I wouldn't mind feeling the weight of my two-year old in my arms for a while and I would fight lions to hear Ruby's lisp again. I miss rocking Silas before bed each night during that first year, promising we would never leave him and that no one else could ever have him." Because there are always things that we will miss, cherish for the moment, and look forward to! The struggle between past, present, and future IS real! :)

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  20. oh that fanny pack gets me. and that last line. so good!

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  21. My three are 7,5, and 2 and all about to have birthdays. The baby days are slipping away but I'm loving who they are becoming and their growing independence. Such a gift to watch them grow. Your words ring true, as always. Thank you for sharing!

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  22. Music to my ears, this is. I am about 10 years ahead of you, and I can tell you that each "season" of parenting is the best, and you realize that as your kids get older, they become so interesting! And the yearning you feel for the weight of a little one in your arms is why grandparenting is so awesome :) I think back to the bickering days, and wonder how I ever made it through. I never thought my kids were going to be friends, and yet they are so fun together when we finally get us all in one house (one graduated college, one in). I love watching your kids grow up and I love your blog.

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  23. I would have bottled those ages!! They are golden. Enjoy and milk every moment!

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  24. yes ma'am sister you nailed it!

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  25. love this...you made me smile. These days surely offer much to see and enjoy! I love the perspective of beauty, as opposed to the monotony of "day in and day out", which is what I tend to see.

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  26. Shannon, I loved this! Put into words exactly what I've been feeling. I was just saying to someone yesterday, I love my boys' independence (they are almost 5 and 7.5), their developing interests, the chores they do! Not that I don't weirdly miss lifting them out of the backseat or helping them in the tub -- but this stage is pretty awesome. Praise God! P.S. Such beautiful pictures! ~Christine McCabe

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  27. I'm am right with you, going into my second decade of mothering and turning 40. It a strange and beautiful season. I too desire to hold each day as a gift. Thank you for echoing my mama heart:)

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  28. You have me ugly crying, standing at my kitchen island this morning, lady. I guess because we're in such similar spots. . .my two are 10 and 7. . .and I feel so much the same way you do. I never thought it could be better than a three year old and a newborn. . .and I do still miss those baby days. But every stage has been just as beautiful, and I hold onto every one of them. There's a certain magic to watching them become self-sufficient. But enough about me, I meant to comment about you, your words, your thoughts. Truly one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long time. Thank you for sharing them.

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  29. Even with a grown up daughter, married and living in her own home, there are still those sweet spots and I still treasure the gift they are.

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  30. Cherish the moment! Because each one is priceless.

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  31. I'm in the small kids phase and this post was a gift tonight. There has been so much frustration on my part with small people behaviours lately, and your counsel to hold the time now like a gift is just perfect. I can do that. I want to do that. I'm excited to do that tomorrow when all four get up and start another long\ short day. The common advice I hear to 'cherish every moment' is too much to swallow in the midst of pooped-in boy undies, tantrums, and dish soap smeared all over the living room. Hold the day as a gift--so much more doable! Thank you!!!!

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  32. this is my favorite thing you've written, ever. and boy is that saying a lot.
    your closings slay me utterly.
    xoxo

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