Paige started pre-school this week. It was a huge milestone in our house and anticipating it threw me into an emotional tailspin. All I’ve known for the past nine years is babies and diapers, potty training and play dates, trips to the park and story time at the library, chaos and toys to trip over, high volumes of noise and a constant companion.
Without a doubt there have been meltdown moments where I would have given anything to leave the uncertainty of mommyhood behind and escape to the familiarity of the office. But as a whole, I have embraced motherhood and find myself in awe on a daily basis that God chose to entrust these four precious souls to Curt and I to protect and nurture, discipline and train, love and treasure. The enormity of this responsibility is overshadowed by the bliss of the blessing.
When I held Grant for the first time, my identity and purpose was redefined. My children’s needs became the compass that dictates what I do, when I do it, and where I spend my time and emotional energy. Facing nine hours of alone time each week after nine years of scraping for any spare second to call my own has wreaked havoc in my mind and played games with my identity. My mind is spinning with how to spend this alone time. I don’t want to squander it, but how do I use it? Why am I dreading being alone in a quiet, empty house?
The night before school started, Paige laid out her school outfit on the floor of her bedroom. Tiny skinny jeans, hand-me-down Converse tennis shoes repurposed as “new” by buying hot pink laces, a smocked T-shirt and her new sweatshirt mocked me and the lump in my throat began to grow. Paige excitedly dug out her matching monkey backpack and lunch box and chose her snack while I choked back tears. During bedtime prayers, I stroked her hair while Paige thanked God that she was FINALLY old enough to go to school. We went through our hug, kiss, Eskimo kiss, pat pat (it’s my favorite), giggles, and more kisses and I felt like a little piece of my heart was being ripped out. How could my baby be old enough to go to school?
The morning of the big day dawned and Paige chattered incessantly while she ate breakfast. She brought me two “hair parties” (what we call anything that goes in your hair) and requested two braids, “but not French braids.” We took her picture by her “Paige bush,” a little rose bush we were given as a gift to celebrate her birth. We uprooted it when we moved from Illinois and replanted it in Newberg. She beamed at me, backpack overpowering her tiny frame and I hid behind the camera and blinked away the threatening tears. On the way to school, we prayed together. I choked back more tears as I thanked God for my precious daughter, her growth over the years, and the privilege of going to school. We asked for God’s guidance on her time at school and I secretly asked for the ability to let her go without creating a scene.
Paige posed for more pictures by the “Wee Care Christian Preschool” sign, by her hook for her backpack, and with her friend Sophia who happened to be in her class. She found the laminated paper doll with “Paige” written on it and signed in for the day by depositing the doll in a plastic school bus. We greeted her teacher and there she stood in the doorway…. one step away from leaving toddlerhood behind and entering her life as a student. At the last second she hesitated, paused and turned back to me for reassurance. I gave her one more hug, told her how excited I was for her, and watched her confidently shed her babyhood and walk into school.
I keep waiting for the moment where I sit down in my empty, quiet house and ask myself, “What do I do now?” So far it hasn’t happened. My To Do list is still ever growing, my scrapbooking undone. My life hasn’t made a colossal shift like I thought it would and if I’m honest, I’m so glad. I kind of like being a mom.