Tomorrow. Tomorrow it begins. Enter the song from “Annie,”
I love you, tomorrow;
you’re only a day away!
Tomorrow my almost-3-year-old twins will enter preschool. This DAY I’ve longed for, that felt too far ahead into that distant Future which I couldn’t see through the hazy, sleep-deprived gaze of newborn days and toddler tantrums. Friends who’d journeyed there said the oft-repeated and often-frustrating-when-you’re-in-the-midst-of-it cliche of, “the days are long, but the years are short.” I find myself repeating that phrase myself to friends with weeks-old newborns, who are struggling with finding their way through the maze of feedings, advice, sleep(lessness), diapers, and colic. I’ve said it to friends who are still a few months away from welcoming their first babe into their hearts, and who feel alternately daunted and excited by such a venture.
As I thought about this post, I wasn’t sure whether to camp out in nostalgic-how-did-my-babies-get-so-big, or to join Glennon in the ranks of “hallelujah! Free at last!” I offer my story, which is a combination of both. Only this morning, I have felt both extremes. When my blue-eyed blonde beauties look up at me and say, “I love you, Mommy!” followed by a melt-my-heart hug; when one says, “Daddy is my best Daddy ever!”; when I see them creatively playing and sweetly cooperating with one another, I think that I am going to miss this. Granted, I will still have plenty of it (they’re only going two mornings a week), yet I know this is sort of the beginning of School. We are probably not going to go the homeschool route personally (and I have great respect for those of you who are), so School will likely mean that the next 15 years will include fostering their academic pursuits outside of the home. That’s terrifying when I realize that I am giving over the reigns of control to someone else, even for six hours a week. Will they be ok? What will I miss in terms of small moments you can’t capture? What if they are holy terrors for their teachers or their fellow students? [disclamor: I have no reason to believe that they will be since they are always MUCH better behaved with those other than us … but you never know …] Who will help her if she can’t figure out how to get her lunchbox open or if she skins her knee? Can I bear the thought that it will be someone besides me?
Well, yes. I can if I remember the part of me that can’t wait for tomorrow. I am looking forward to preschool because I want them to learn to play with other kids, to do wildly messy and creative art projects that I won’t have to clean up, to learn to be under another authority besides me, to be guided in their curiosity about this world by teachers trained to do so. This sounds quite noble, and I wish I could stop there. But I won’t. Because I bet there are others out there who, like me, also cannot WAIT for the break. The break from being a referee/personal chef/activities director for two seemingly impossible to please toddlers. Parenting has been as much my journey of finding out who God’s made me as it has been nurturing my children into who God’s making them. And a few things I’ve learned about myself these parenting years set me up for preschool being a lovely break at precisely the right time:
- I don’t enjoy arts and crafts. In theory, yes, but the actuality feels too messy and frustrating most of the time.
- I’m not naturally a playful mom, meaning that getting on the floor and doing lego towers for hours (or even 10 minutes) can feel tiring. I do it still because I love the girls who love legos, but it’s just hard for me. Same reason that I don’t really like playgrounds either.
- I am most refreshed by time alone or with a few friends with whom I can connect on a deep level. To say that’s been a scarcity in these first three years as a mom is an understatement.
- I am passionate about what God’s called me to outside of my home, too. I enjoy teaching women the beauty of the gospel found in God’s Word; mentoring younger women in their faith journeys; counseling those in difficult places; and writing. The freedom of two mornings a week without my children will free me up to pursue these a tiny bit more than I’ve been able to before now.
- I am a better mom when I have a regular break to anticipate and in which to find refreshment. I’m not saying that God has not met me in the midst of the trenches of these past few years, but I am saying that I’ve found that I am able to love my husband and children better with regular breaks. This may not be your story, but this has been mine. And I suspect there are many of you in the church especially who have not felt free to admit this. Admit it; ask for grace in the midst of each day; don’t demand breaks in order to be a better mom but DO take breaks as you can, for spiritual and emotional refreshment. Take a break in order to re-engage those God’s called you to in self-sacrificial love.
Will I be a tearful mom tomorrow as I send off my big girls with their tiny backpacks? Of course. Will I be a joyful mom who will feel like three hours is a blissful luxury not to be squandered lightly? Equally so. I expect crying and rejoicing to each be present in this mom’s heart. And for both aspects, I am thankful for a God who weeps with me and rejoices with me and who goes with me and with my daughters as we’ll part for three hours. I imagine that I’ll blink and be writing a similar post about college. Oh my. That may really get the tears going, so I’ll stop while I’m ahead.