Over the past few years I have watched with curiosity and jealousy as stay at home moms dropped off their youngest children at school for the first time and steadily disappeared from the playdate scene.
What’s it like on the other side? I wondered. Does it feel as awesome as it looks? Why are you crying? Do you really miss them?
Some returned to work, roles clearly defined once again. But for those who remained at home, I wondered how they used their time.
Last month I finally got to experience the transition myself. (You can take a moment to celebrate with me here.)
And people I knew well and not so well stopped me to ask what I was going to do now.
“Do you just sit on the couch all day?” a teacher at school asked, not meaning to imply that I was lazy, but still, I didn’t know how to respond. Is it okay to relax? Is it okay not to jump into a nine to five job? Am I lazy compared to the teachers who open the school doors before seven AM each morning? Does anyone else feel this tremendous pressure that comes from needing to define your time and purpose all over again? Or the guilt that comes from not contributing financially to the home budget?
What am I doing now?
I had to write it out, map it on a calendar and list it to wrap my head around this massive transition.
What’s it like? It’s like having years of pent up desires and to do lists unleashed onto uninterrupted time such that I feel intense pressure to accomplish all of my dreams, albeit self-inflicted and at times unjustified. This time is a gift. A gift. And yet, I am setting my alarm to wake up earlier than I have in recent years. With young children in the house I haven’t had to use an alarm regularly since I quit working. I have set my alarm more this past month than I have in the last seven years.
I am reminded of an old Amy Grant song where she sings,
When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head
And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said
But I'm still hurting, wondering if I'll ever be the one
I think I am--I think I am.
What’s on that massive to-do list?
First, there is self-care.
Second, there is home-care.
Third, there is kid-care:
Lastly, there are my personal dreams and goals:
Is that it? I am sure there are things missing from this list. There is so much I want to do now, I have to check myself constantly and make sure I say no to things in order to pace myself. And at the end of the day, I need to remember how that Amy Grant song ends. It starts with her as stressed as I feel some mornings, worried I’ll sleep through the alarm because I was up late prepping worksheets or reading a novel or up in the night because someone’s ears were congested.
But of course, the song doesn’t end there. It concludes:
Then you gently re-remind me
That You've made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst.
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who
You are, who You are.
And all I ever have to be is what
You've made me
I don’t know if I’ll have time in this life to get through the to-do list. And I’m praying to be okay with that. I pray to prioritize God and to prioritize relationships. Beyond that, I pray to use the gifts God has given me and to be the person he has created me to be.
That is what happens when your children go to school. It’s rather earth-shattering in the changes it brings.
And that was just September.
God go before me because who knows what this calendar will bring.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.