Big Feelings

This summer has been a doozy. I honestly don’t even know where to start or how to put it into words. Our family has walked through the deep fire of tragic loss and then navigated the new waters of elementary school. 

I have wanted to stop and write about alllllll the big feelings but honestly they just felt too big to write down. Some things you only can clearly feel, but cognitive clarity seems like another mountain to climb and well, you just don’t want to.

I’m not sure I feel ready to talk about the loss quite yet. It isn’t my story to tell, but my grief is still my own. That may come a little later…

But what I feel I CAN talk about, since you’re here and all, is sending my sweet firstborn baby cherub to KINDERGARTEN.

You guys. 

I was ill-prepared. 

Ironically, I tried super hard to prepare. T’was a wash.

I cannot speak for all first timers here. But I can for sure speak for myself. I have been navigating such big feelings through this and I’m not even the one having to brave this big giant school thing.

I have worked ever since having kids. After my first maternity leave, I went back to work 3 days a week. It was a choice that both was necessary financially, as well as for my soul. I love to work. But I didn’t want to work full time while my kids were young. For the past 5 1/2 years, I have been a part time career mom. It has worked for us. When Isla was itty bitty, kindergarten (aka: full time school until for freaking ever) seemed so so far away. People always say the time flies by and before you are ready, kindergarten is here! Which is SUPER annoying to hear when you’re covered in spit up, poop, or whiny tears from your little person. But I am here to humble myself and say, “IT’S ALL TRUE AND I’M SO MAD THEY ARE ALL RIGHT.”

Because here we are. Here. We. Are.

5 year olds are thrown head long into these really big expectations and changes. We are thrilled with her teacher and school and she loves it but even still, it’s just a lot. And not just for her. It honestly changes the dynamic of the whole family. For better or worse, we are tethered together in this whole thing. Poor Houston, he didn’t sign up for this. The silver lining of sending my child to kindergarten was newfound one on one time with my baby boyfriend (who is almost 3, it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.)…but I failed to anticipate his lack of enthusiasm for not having his built in bestie around at all times. It’s super fun to hear your child cry “peas we go get Isla, I want my sistuh!” on your mommy-son date….

I have realized that even when change is good and fun and ideal, it’s still HARD. New things require a lot of mental energy as you adapt to a new environment, new people, new expectations, new routines… And even when it is a change you want or enjoy, it is still overwhelming. Big feelings come out. All of it increases your capacity and forces you to grow. But if you never walk into the new thing, you are withholding from yourself that opportunity to grow. I have so deeply desired growth over the last couple of years. And oh my gosh, God has answered that prayer…I conveniently forgot that growth is hard. And in the middle of my puddle of tears I keep reminding myself that I actually asked for this. HA.

Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not saying God brings the bad. But he does use the hard. And He brings the goodness. 

A friend of mine shared one of my favorite analogies of the season recently… 

She was talking about plants. When a plant grows, it often has to get repotted into a bigger container. The new container is bigger and better and if you’re lucky, its shinier and prettier and funner. But you don’t just plop the growing plant from point A to point B. You have to break up the roots. For that plant to grow successfully into its new home, you have to get in there and mess up the entanglement a little bit. All those roots that have worked so hard to grow that plant and secure it’s health, that are all cozy and warm underground, now have to endure the painful process of being pulled apart (gently) and separated from one another in order to promise a healthy new process for the new season of a bigger pot. Without this process, growth is choked out.

Growth is hard. Even for plants. That don’t have a soul. How much harder is it for us humans to endure the dismantling of all that is comfortable, safe, convenient, or easy, for the promise of the joy set before us if we lay all of that down. If we choose the easy, we forfeit the promise of more life. 

I want to always choose the promise of more life. It has a cost, no doubt. But resisting that invitation is exceptionally more painful. His presence is in the fire. It’s in the growth. It’s also in the promised land. But you only get there through the wilderness. I want to suffer well. I want to worship through the fire.

This is clearly not all about kindergarten (hence the vague reference of loss at the beginning of this)… But watching my baby girl grow into hard things is so powerful. I’m so freaking proud of her for doing hard things. Every choice to walk into her new classroom when she doesn’t want to, and when its uncomfortable, and when there is anxiety within her, she is increasing her capacity to WIN. 

I want her to WIN. Gosh I do. And I am learning more and more that my kids succeed when they are CHALLENGED. There is nothing to win if there isn’t a fight to be won. There isn’t success if there isn’t a challenge to overcome. But holy heck, pushing her past her comfort zone to go to school when tears are involved and she wants to stay home in safety because it is just. too. Hard….is hard. I want her to feel safe and comfortable and happy and all the things that don’t shape her into a strong force to be reckoned with. 

I long to be strong and stable. To be a safe place to have space for the struggles of the people I love. I get to practice that on my kids. Not to enable them or give them an out when the going gets tough, but to empathize with them, love them, tell them I’m curse-word-level proud of them (minus the curse word unless I’m talking to a not easily offended adult) and remind them that greater is HE that is within them, than he that is in the world. 

I have a lot of feelings. These are only a few of them. The weeping and gnashing of teeth has been present in my process of all these things. My barnacle is off to big kid school and it’s just really a LOT you guys. But good news, I’m a room mom so I get to be nosey about her life.

God bless it all. First time kinder moms, UNITE. We will survive these things and so will our cherub babies. For all the seasoned moms, can you tell me if learning to blow your nose is a standard part of kindergarten curriculum because oh my gosh someone please help us over at the Rollins’ household…

Oh also, we are potty training the second cherub baby. Seemed like a good idea to toss that in the middle of seismic life change. #wisdom

So if you see a mama in a carline, or wrangling baby cherubs manifesting as wild banshees, throw up a mommy gang sign of props and recognition and maybe buy her coffee if she’s behind you in the Starbucks line.