Friday, May 17, 2013

Sweet Endings

My heart is full, and my body is weary as I sit here on Friday night at my computer. The past two weeks have been full of so many sweet endings that my heart is about to burst. Last Tuesday night Grant graduated from preschool, a ceremony complete with the cap, gown, and tassel. Just three days later, Ali Kate's school had their kindergarten program entitled, "Things that Make Me Happy." She had two speaking lines, and we practiced those over and over and over. It's the third kindergarten program that I've helped a child learn lines for and the fourth preschool graduation that I've attended. Cameras, camcorders, teacher gifts all in tow to each one. This time of year marks for me as a mom the speed at which my kids are growing up. It honestly seems like yesterday that we were even sending Abby off to 4 year old preschool. I still remember the rainy afternoon when I met Mrs. Karen and Mrs. Leslie for the first time. We had a 1:00 appointment that day (why I remember that I'll never know...because I don't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday....or if I even ate lunch yesterday). After battling diabetes for a year, we finally felt like Abby could handle being away two mornings a week. It was with a great deal of anxiety that I turned my oldest child over to Getwell Road's Day School for just two mornings each week. We fell in love with the school that year, and we attended our first preschool graduation that year. I spent the entire summer after that crying myself to sleep as I dreaded one of my babies "leaving the nest" that fall. I'd been home with them all since Abby was 1 year old, and we didn't feel right if we all 5 weren't together during the day. I barely made it through that first day of kindergarten. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. But this week my third daughter finishes up her kindergarten year, and somehow it just flew by. Ali Kate's kindergarten year was much easier on me than Abby's because we'd been at SBEC for 3 years already, and Ali Kate had Mrs. Pepin (Isabella's teacher from last year). It almost just felt like we'd just taken a few weeks off from Mrs. Pepin's class...we just happened to change which child stayed there all day. I didn't shed a tear that I recall when Ali Kate started. Unlike Abby's first day, this was our children's second home...and I was an old pro at this first day of kindergarten thing. I comforted first time school moms this time around because I'd "been there, done that, gotten the tshirt" as they say. I knew how lunches, car rider lines, homework notebooks, field trips, class parties, and everything else worked. I was the voice of experience. My how three small years can change everything. So tonight I sit here holding back tears as I am literally closing an important chapter in this thing called "motherhood." I spent many, many years as the mother of newborns, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. As of last Tuesday, I have no more preschoolers. All four of my children are school-aged children. And that day arrived way too fast for this mom who has loved the leisurely afternoon bike rides, rocking babies to sleep, afternoons spent with backyard picnics, and all that childhood includes. Way too fast those days flew by from holding Grant as a newborn to watching him graduate from preschool. Instead of 4 kids ages newborn, 1, 2, and 4...I now have kids ages 5, 6, 7, and 9. Abby is almost in the double digits. Now, how did that happen? A decade? Really? I still don't know what I'm doing as a mom, and I've been one for almost an entire decade already. Yesterday Grant celebrated his 5th birthday. He came to the kitchen and announced that he wasn't 4 anymore because now he was 5. I told him that I needed my first 5 year old hugs and kisses, and he promptly gave me sweet "morning lovin'." Then he made his way back into bed with Sophie and asked for breakfast in bed. He spent the day with Dad (at his request) while I helped with Abby's 3rd grade class party. Matt and Grant visited the zoo and had a blast. We spent the afternoon opening gifts, eating cake, and then headed to Casa Mexicana so that he could get whip cream on his face at his request. I still remember the day Grant was born with such clarity. I remember heading to Dr. Peeler's office to record contractions on the monitor so that I could head over to the hospital. I remember how quickly and easily the C-section went and how easily Grant took to nursing. I remember the utter delight when I held my only son. I remember the hour or so that just Matt, Grant, and I spent in recovery before the arrival of our boisterous group of girls. I remember his tiny features, the way he snuggled in my neck, the hours I spent just holding him. And now he's five years old. He's grown up in dance studios, basketball games, school hallways, soccer games, gymnastics gyms, in the backseat, in strollers, and everywhere as we've taken his sisters to their appointments. He's grown from a tiny baby into an incredible (huge) little boy that I'm so proud of. At his graduation, they showed a video where they asked the kids what their mom did while they were at school. Grant's reply: Alot of laundry. They also asked him what they wanted to be when they grew up. His reply: A superhero. I love that! This week we've celebrated with Grant's birthday, Abby's end of the year party, and Isabella's end of the year party too. It's been so bittersweet to watch them grow just one more year older, move up just one more grade, and move one more year toward adulthood. It's been so bittersweet too to watch their teachers wish them goodbye and goodluck. Mrs. Hall was on the verge of tears as she talked about her class moving to 2nd grade. I was so nervous about having her because we loved Mrs. Vanderford with Abby, but I've fallen in love with Mrs. Hall as a teacher. Isabella could not have had a better teacher! She was the perfect teacher for my child, and Isabella has grown so much with her. She's learned to work hard, do her best, pay attention to detail, and have fun too. Mrs. Hall genuinely cares about each child and about doing her very best, and I've loved watching her this year. We've been blessed to have her. I was so sad as we told her goodbye, and I'm even more sad that Ali Kate won't have the chance to have her. When we decided to homeschool this coming year, that was one of the saddest realizations....that AK wouldn't have Mrs. Hall for 1st grade. We've had a similar experience with Mrs. Lee. I was very nervous about having a teacher who didn't have children herself because I thought that she'd not be as understanding or careful about Abby's diabetes as some teachers might be. But Mrs. Lee has been Abby's favorite teacher. She's loved on her, taken care of her, texted me constantly, invested in Abby....she's been incredible. I know firsthand how hard the first year of teaching can be, and Mrs. Lee has done a wonderful job in her first year. I only hope she knows how much she's loved. I had the kids in all 3 classes make the teachers a book about what they liked about their teacher, funniest moments, what their teacher taught them, etc. Some responses were funny (like the hardest part of Mrs. Pepin's job being bending over with her bad back!). Some were cute (like the teacher being 7 inches tall). Many were sweet and precious. Many children said that they loved their teacher and that she was awesome. I hope each teacher takes the time to go through these books and cherish these kids' answers. Today Isabella's class had their awards day before their class party. Isabella achieved her goal of 100 AR points (she actually had 117). She worked really hard for those points, and I'm proud of how diligent she was all year long. She actually received the character award for diligence. Mrs. Hall gave a long story about how in 34 years of teaching she'd only had one other student who was like Isabella in the way that she worked so hard, did such a thorough job, made almost completely perfect grades, and worked so hard to help others (and that child was her niece). She was so proud of Isabella, and we were too! Isabella also received the "Sprees" candy award for doing her work so well and helping others get through theirs. So proud of her! Tomorrow night includes another sweet ending as we end our years at our dance studio. We've been there for five years, and my children have had some of their favorite memories there. They've made new friends, learned new moves, hung out with girls, built their confidence, and learned to love dance. Abby will receive her 5 year award tomorrow night, and she's so excited about that. For many reasons, it's time to move on to another studio. I know it's the right decision, but I will miss being a part of this familiar part of our lives. We've spent many, many, many hours in this studio, and it will feel really weird for a while to not be a part of it. My girls are ready for a fresh start, and they realize that it's time to move. But still bittersweet. Last but not least, this end of this school year has a bittersweet feel to it because we wont' be at SBEC this fall. I'll have to blog on this soon (because it's a long story), but we are homeschooling our kids this coming year in obedience to what God's asked us to do with our finances. I know it's a huge change. There will be hard days. I'm scared to death, but I know it will be fine. I've got alot on my plate to work out in terms of schedules, curriculum, resources, testing, paperwork, etc. But there will be time for that. I'm nervous about the kids not being with their friends, missing class events, transitioning back into school, etc. But I know that God has asked us to do this, and I will obey Him. I know He's going to bless this obedience, and He already has. Matt received a raise yesterday, just one week after I pulled Ali Kate and Isabella out of SBEC. I believe that was His way of blessing our obedience. While I know nothing about homeschooling (although I rocked as a teacher :), I know that with God all things are possible. I know that my kids will soar academically and that we as a family will grow through this experience. We plan for this to be just a year, and we'll see if it will be longer. We are on the road to being debt-free, and I'm so very excited about that!!! We are giving over this part of our lives to the Lord, and I'm so excited to see what He has in store for us! I'm looking forward to being the one to teach my babies their schoolwork, and I'm looking forward to the extra hours that I'll get with all of them. I'm so blessed to have been able to stay home for the past 8 years and to be able to send our kids to private school. I'm also blessed to have been academically accomplished and able to teach my children well. God has blessed us beyond measure, and I can't wait to see what this adventure holds in store for us! So as I go to bed tonight, I'm full of raw emotion. My children are growing up oh so fast. My cribs, strollers, and bouncy seats have given way to backpacks, dance shoes, and soccer balls. My afternoon leisure reading of kids' books has been replaced by helping memorize book reports. Discussions about diaper brands and nap schedules have given way to discussions about getting ears pierced and Ipad usage. And just as fast as those changes happened, I know that these days will give way to days filled with ACTs, drivers licenses, first dates, and college campus visits. And it's true what they say: My job is to work myself out of a job. If I do this thing called motherhood right, that's exactly what I'll do.

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