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Saturday, September 22, 2012


Our school year has begun. Jonah and Ben started 5th grade, Aidan 1st, and Ella began preschool. At the bus stop on the first day of school, there was a huge rainbow that stretched over our neighborhood. I took that as a very good sign about the year to come.

This is the first time all the boys have been gone at school all day every day. It has proven to take some getting used to, on everyone’s part. There have been no major problems, so that’s the good news. The mornings are running more smoothly than any other year, too. The boys are cooperating with the tasks they have to complete before heading to school, except for brushing their teeth, of course. (Aidan does brush without any problem, I should note, in case he ever reads this!) There has only been one morning so far where Aidan has been in tears about going to school. And only a few evenings where Jonah complains about various worries about school.

I have everything down to a science this year. Last year I was overwhelmed with having three school-aged kids and a toddler. It takes a lot of organization (making sure they have a nutritious breakfast, making sure they do their homework, making sure homework doesn’t get lost between the table and the backpack, making sure everyone has a snack and water bottle in their backpacks for school, making sure teachers are aware of any med or behavior changes, making sure we find time to play, making sure we make it to therapies, making sure the kids get to bed on time, making sure I don't forget to give lots of hugs…) and our lives are not usually organized because we’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to just meet everyone’s basic needs while we deal with rages, SPD challenges, new tics, medications, etc. Not to mention all the colds, flus, ear and sinus infections, and strep the kids start getting the first week of school and don't end until half-way through the summer!

This year I'm on top of things. We have a shower schedule, so boys don't get too "stanky." We have a morning schedule posted, as well as an after school schedule. We decide who is having hot or cold lunch at night. We put snacks in backpacks the night before, and fill up water bottles. If I'm really ambitious, I get the coffee pot set up for my Life Juice to brew right away in the morning. I'm on top of things.

It was a tricky first week when the three boys were at school all day. I miss them! But then, Ella went to school. Two mornings a week, for two hours each day. Ugh, it was like a punch to the gut. I felt a deep, uncomfortable, anxious, heaviness in my heart. I'm happy and proud that our kids are capable of doing what they're supposed to do as humans- go out into the world, make friends, learn, enjoy life. But I'm sad for me. The house was too quiet, too empty, there was no one to worry about. No one's tushy to wipe, no one to feed, no one to yell "MOOOO-OOOM!!!" eight thousand times, no one to negotiate arguments with...I knew this time was coming, that our lives were changing, and I knew it would be hardest for me. And it was. As my dad pointed out, I've been a full-time care giver to intensely needy children for ten years. It's hard to know what to do when that changes. 

So I did some things just for me, these first couple weeks of school. Things like baking, running, reading a magazine (!!). It sounds crazy, but it was hard to do things that were just for me because I'm so used to doing things for my family. But by the end of this past week, I had had a few moments of joy while the kids were all at school. If I can let myself relax enough to enjoy these few short hours every week, I think we'll all be happier people. I find I have a lot more energy and patience for everyone when they get home from school. I'm happy to see them all, glad to hug them as they walk in the house, grateful I get to be here to hear about their days.

We'll make this work, this whole 'kids growing up' thing. It's tough on Mamas, but it's good for kids. 

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