Shoot dang, the preparation required for preschool is a little intense. I feel like we spent most of our summer preparing for school in one way or another. One of the very last things we did was attend the school’s Meet the Teacher day. Those hours were dedicated to letting the kids explore their new classroom, meet some of their classmates, and feel comfortable with their new teachers with the safety of their parents nearby.
Clearly, my boys were very intent on working hard:
I would love to keep writing about what God might be stirring in my heart regarding this new season of life, but I have one boy who is trying to ride our dog and one boy who is zooming his cars all over my laptop. Remember that time I said how much I miss my boys when they’re at school? Yeah…about that.
It’s moments like these for which the word “bittersweet” was invented. Bug and Bear are both now students of preschool; Bug attends Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday while Bear attends Tuesday and Thursday.
Let’s start with the sweet, shall we? I now have nine hours a week during which I am given two very precious commodities – time and personal space. Two commodities which have until this point been severely lacking in my life. So far I’ve used the time to work out, schedule doctor’s appointments, clean, cook, and run errands. These are all things I’ve previously done with my two tornadoes in tow, but it’s quite an incredible privilege to do these things at my own pace. I’m blessed that I can take care of my “to-do’s” while the boys are in school and focus my energy on them while they’re home. Having both boys in school has resulted in less TV while they’re home [I no longer need them to stay out of trouble for 25 minutes while I scrub toilets and mop floors], and I’m finding so much more patience and gentleness when we’re all together.
Plus, there have been unexpected moments of bliss. Going to the bathroom without an audience, grabbing just my phone and keys for errands, being mentally present during my quiet time, and not having to worry about little hands making a mess when I’m cooking to name just a few.
Without family nearby to give us the occasional break, the back up plan for personal doctor’s appointments, or the built-in babysitter for errands, preschool has been a lifesaver!
[Bear’s faces as he processed the information that this was his first day of school.]
[I know this is a lot of photos of Bear and his backpack, but seriously. He was ridiculously adorable rolling that thing to his classroom.]
And of course, there’s the bitter. I’m not normally sappy about my kids growing up, so the sadness in my heart as their first day approached snuck up on me. In our last days of summer, I couldn’t keep out the memories of my growing up boys as babies. I was overwhelmed with remembering their particular baby scent, the first time their hand wrapped around my finger, and those times I rocked and sang to them in the middle of the night – just the two of us, in our own little world.
As we dropped them off, I only teared up momentarily when I realized neither boy so much as glanced back at us. They both happily bounded into their classroom, full of anticipation of the day ahead.
What’s wrong with me? What was I thinking – raising well-adjusted and independent kids? Why didn’t I realize that I secretly wanted them to melt down at the very thought of being without their Mommy – their world- for an entire day? Shouldn’t they be feeling even a glimpse of the sadness that was overwhelming my heart?
Something tells me I’ll be thinking those exact words as we drive away from each child’s dorm their freshman year of college. That is…if we do our job right.
I held myself together though, put on my sunglasses and took a deep breath. I was patting myself on the back about not being one of those – boo-hoo-ing, can’t get a grip on reality that kids tend to grow up -Moms. Then I got in my car and took out the Schoolhouse Rock CD to which we’d been listening.
My car was suddenly void of the conjunction, junction, what’s your function [hookin’ up words and phrases and clauses…in case you were wondering], and there was…silence.
No voices asking for water, asking where we were going, or pointing out the dump truck nearby. No sound of books being traded between brothers, pretzels being chomped, or shoes being un-velcroed. Just silence.
Y’all. I lost it.
I missed them. Except for the occasional girls’ night or “I’m going out of my mind and need an hour at Starbucks” trek, I’m never without at least one little set of hands holding onto mine. For over four years, I’ve had these pieces of my heart I call my sons literally attached to me.
It wasn’t easy to walk into an empty home. I left my hearts at that school, and I was trusting teachers I barely knew to care for those hearts. I’m trusting that their spirits aren’t crushed, and I’m trusting that other kids don’t say hurtful or thoughtless things to my gentle hearted boys.
While I’m enjoying the luxury of having time to shave my armpits in the shower, I’m praying that my sons are being disciplined gently, are developing an enthusiasm for learning, are being spoken to with patience, and are seen as the incredible children of God that they are.
You might be glad to know that both boys are having a fantastic experience at school. Even though they didn’t crumble in tears at the thought of me leaving them at school, they did run into my arms with an excited, “Mommy!!” when I picked them up.
Bittersweet, indeed. But really – mostly sweet.
Here’s another hint to help you guess where we ate for Bear’s birthday dinner:
Since this was such a special occasion, we allowed the boys to get a milkshake. Of course, it wasn’t until after Bear had finished his that we remembered we were trying to limit his dairy consumption. He had a chronic, very painful, very raw diaper rash that would not go away. After some experimenting and talking with his pediatrician, we realized he still has a lactose intolerance.
Oops. Happy Birthday, Bear. Here’s a painful diaper rash because your parents are forgetful.
Actually, we slathered on the diaper cream and for the next 48 hours didn’t give him any other form of diary and he was okay. The little guy was SO excited about that milkshake, yet he still sweetly shared with his Daddy:
Bug thoroughly enjoyed his milkshake as well, though he was mostly all about that hat:
[I think he’s at the same time fascinated and frightened.]
As part of Bear’s 2nd birthday celebration, we took a family trip to the zoo! We had a lot of fun, but I’m sure one day we’ll learn that Texas is hot in August. Bear’s birthday is August 12th, so maybe by the time he turns 18 we’ll find ways to celebrate his birthday that don’t involve spending hours in the suppressing heat.
See that look on Hee-Hee’s face? He’s thinking, “Seriously? The zoo? In August? What kind of parents are you, anyway…?”
Bug fell asleep on the drive there, so he spent the first 25 minutes just like that. Of course when he woke up, he and Shawn were pretty soaked in sweat; however, it’s always worth it for a few extra cuddles with that little guy.
There were a fair amount of exhibits inside, so we took advantage and cooled ourselves off a little bit.
One of the more memorable parts of our visit was this monkey exhibit. The boys were belly laughing as they watched a baby monkey get in trouble with its “parents”. The baby monkey kept running away and was at one point put in “time out” by one of the adult monkeys. In a scenario I know all too well, the baby monkey gleefully ran right out of time out and swung from rope to rope. I kid you not, the adult monkey grabbed the baby monkey off of the rope [you could almost hear her saying through clenched teeth, “So help me, if you disobey me like that one more time…”], and then the adult monkey bit the baby monkey.
We had to do some explaining about why a Mommy or Daddy monkey would bite their child, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t totally understand where that Mama was coming from. I’d also be lying if I said it’s not a little disconcerting that my parenting difficulties are eerily similar to a monkey’s.
Once we meandered our way through the zoo, we took a train back to the entrance. We have two little train lovers at our house, so the amount of giddy excitement was oozing out of their pores. Once we boarded the train, both boys were looking around in sheer fascination.
Oh, hey there – one of my favorite pictures ever.
Part of the zoo [the part where you board the train] was a dedicated mini old-school Texas town. Yes, an entire town. With local animals and all [including rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders].
Your passionate love for your state is weird. There are no zoos in Indiana with an entire section dedicated to the state. Because it’s called a corn field. The state of Texas is certainly nice enough, but the rest of the country thinks you all are just a little “off.” And let’s be honest, your need to constantly raise a ruckus about your state isn’t helping things.
PS. This might be the first time you’re hearing about this, but there ARE other states besides Texas in the United States.
After we thoroughly wore the boys out, we left the zoo for Bear’s very special birthday dinner. I’ll save those photos for another day, but here’s a hint: It’s the only place you can order a double, smothered, animal style and not get arrested.
Sure, this video was taken on Bear’s birthday. You’ll notice that Bug is very sweetly singing “Happy Birthday” to Bear. But aside from that, this video is a perfect glimpse of what I see every day. The boys always sit at our kitchen island for lunch, and I always stand across from them. I have to stand because I’m at once a waitress and a referee, and sometimes in between those two jobs I can grab a bite or two of my own food. That is, if I have the luxury of even getting out my own lunch.
Because heaven forbid I have a chance to make a salad when there is a SPOON on the FLOOR or an EMPTY SIPPY CUP! Priorities, people.
Ahem. But this video actually doesn’t involve any spoons dropping on the floor or any other catastrophic lunch time events. Instead, it perfectly shows the way Bug and Bear interact. A little bit of sweetness, a little bit of silliness, a little bit of annoyance, and a whole lot of best friend-ness.
Yep, that’s my view. Every day. And I treasure it, mentally taking snapshots and storing them in the deepest parts of my heart. It’s absolutely the best view I could possibly imagine.