Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Ready or Not

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Will will start tenth grade, and Hallie will start eighth grade. TENTH grade?! EIGHTH grade?! What in the world is happening here?!

It's mind-boggling to think about how the last "normal" school year our kids experienced was 2018-2019. 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 weren't all bad, but each has a bit of a cloud hanging over it and I'm hopeful that this year, while perhaps not necessarily easier, will at least be kinder on our hearts and souls. Less anger, less fear, less anxiety and stress, less uncertainty. And along with that, more flexibility, more generosity of spirit, more forgiveness and compassion.

I'm not ready for Will and Hallie to go back to school. Now that they're older, summer just isn't long enough and I'm sad to close the door on yet another one, knowing I only have two more with Will before he graduates from high school. Two is a heartbreakingly small number when counting down... I'm thankful, however, that neither kiddo is returning to in-person learning after a year of virtual school. I'm thankful neither kiddo is starting at a new school or academic level. I'm thankful both are fully vaccinated and boosted, and that another booster is coming down the pipeline.

So here we go again...I'm not ready, but they are.


This brings me to what I'm about to share: an edited and abbreviated version of a post that has appeared here multiple times before, always around this time of year.


During Will and Hallie's baby and toddler years, I found the commonly uttered phrase "enjoy every moment" both frustrating and disheartening.

You've been there, right?

It's 10am. You've been awake for five hours, and in that time you've fed your children three times, been thrown up on three times, cleaned smashed banana out of the cat's fur, changed four diapers, wiped pee up off the playroom floor, rescued a Power Ranger action figure from the toilet, unclogged the toilet, and mopped up the flooded bathroom. You haven't eaten, showered, gotten dressed, or even brushed your teeth.

How many of those moments did you enjoy?

Telling parents - especially new parents, whose days feel like weeks and whose nights require superhuman strength to endure - to "enjoy every moment" often comes across, no matter how well-intentioned, as insensitive and disconnected. These new moms and dads love their babies tremendously, but they simply aren't enjoying every moment.

And telling new parents that kids grow up so fast and time goes by so quickly? Well, those lines sound like great big lies, because in their reality, the kids aren't growing up so fast and time isn't going by so quickly. If they're anything like me when I had an infant at home, new parents are wondering how it's possible their (according to the calendar) five-month-old won't head off to kindergarten in the fall because it feels like they've been caring for that baby for five years.

Tomorrow Will starts tenth grade. TENTH grade. And Hallie - my BABY - starts eighth grade. Holy smokes...they DO grow up so fast. Time DOES go by so quickly.

This is all quite difficult to wrap my head around, considering it seems like just yesterday I quietly stewed - and then later cried in my car - when a woman at the farmers market tousled six-month-old Will's curls and exclaimed, "what a big boy! Enjoy every moment with him!"

Where am I going with this? To be honest, I didn't know the first time I shared this post and I still don't know now, years later.

What I do know is that telling parents - of children of any age - to enjoy every moment often makes them feel worse rather than better. I know that telling new parents that kids grow up so fast or time goes by so quickly often comes off as a cliche or even a lie. And I know that while the minutes feel like hours, the hours like days, and the days like weeks when those babies are teeny tiny, at some point the clock speeds up and you can NEVER slow it back down.

Don't worry about enjoying every moment. But try to enjoy as many as you can, because kids DO grow up so fast and time DOES go by so quickly, whether you're ready or not.

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