In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So What About the First Day of Kindergarten?

We're in week two of kindergarten. Both Christa and I are settling into a routine and, despite one classmate "botherin'" her, Christa is delighted about going to school.
Christa is my first child to go to kindergarten. The older three were at home until first grade--Josh was home through second grade, thanks to an overseas tour in Turkey. (Another story.)
The first day of school, I walked Christa to her classroom.. She toted a pink backpack and a "Hello Kitty" lunch bag. Instructions were to have her line up with the rest of her classmates. I knelt down to give her a hug. She shrugged me off, saying, "Okay. That's enough, Mom. You can go now."
So much for savoring the moment.
When I picked her up later that day, I asked, "Did you miss me?"
"Not even a little bit?"
"Okay, Mom. I missed you medium."

As a mother of four children, I've learned there are many moments when I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This time I laughed, thankful that Christa was ready to take on the world--or at least her world of kindergarten--without me. Afterall, don't we want our children to become independent? Kindergarten is just a baby step towards that goal.

Stretched Again

I gotta' admit, mothering two twenty-somethings, an eighteen-year-old and an almost six-year-old is challenging.
I often say I am stretched all over the parenting spectrum. Sometimes I laugh at my emotional contortions--and sometimes I cry.

Just the other day, I organized all of Christa's supplies for her first day of kindergarten. Her pink backpack with a purple butterfly decal, her "Hello Kitty" lunchbox, her assortment of crayons and glue sticks and washable markers were all arranged on the bench in my foyer.
"Here I go again!" I thought--twelve more years of first days of school.

And then I wandered downstairs to Katie Beth's room. She's my twenty-year-old. Boxes of her belongings--books, shoes, photos--lined the hallway. As Christa prepares for kindergarten, Katie Beth prepares to move out and into her first apartment.

The incongruity of it all hit me. And I didn't laugh. Instead I went upstairs, climbed into my bed and cried.

Just as it is the right time for Christa to start school, it is the right time for Katie Beth to go out on her own. But, that doesn't make it easier for me.
"I like my daughter," I told one friend. "And that means I'll miss her."

And that's a good thing--missing someone you love when they step out into their life--and away from you.

So, as I am letting go a little bit of Christa, I am completely releasing Katie Beth. Sure, she'll drop by for dinner and to wash her clothes--but that will be for a visit. Not to stay.

And I'm okay with that. Really I am.
Just ignore my sniffling.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Home is Where Your Story Begins

Just spent the weekend back east with my family--parents, siblings, cousins. The reason for my whirlwind trip? My nephew, Bill, married a wonderful young woman named Steph. Their marriage expands our family in a whole new way, connecting our family with her family, the Tighes.
Christa was a flower girl with her cousin, Caroline. She eagerly anticipated this event for months since Bill and Steph called and asked her to be part of their wedding ceremony. The oldest cousin (age 25) asking the youngest cousin (age 5 1/2) to be part of the celebration.

So, what's my point in all this?

HOME IS WHERE YOUR FAMILY BEGINS--but it's not neccessarily where your family ends. My brothers and sisters and I have taken different roads since those years we shared a single bathroom, crowded around our dining room table, and packed into our family car for treks north to Vermont for summer vacations.
But, for the weekend, we were together again with our spouses and children and families. We celebrated family in a whole new way.
My brother, Kenny, summed it up best with this quote:

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. (Clara Ortega)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back to Blogging

It's been a while since I last blogged. I've been OBE--a military term meaning "Overcome By Events."
In somewhat chronological order:
  • I sent my book off to Revell--and then walked around for a day or two muttering, "I wrote a book. I wrote a book."
  • My 23 year old son moved to the publishing capital of the world--New York City--and had a "Triple Crown" summer. He landed an agent for his fantasy trilogy, landed a job at Simon and Schuster, and fell in love with his best friend Jen.
  • My 20 year old was home--in the sense that she slept here. But her summer classes and time with her friends meant we had little face-to-face time. Usually we just saw her car in the garage each morning and her laundry in the dryer.
  • My 18 year old daughter graduated from high school--and 10 days later, she left for a summer missions trip in Guatemala. She was gone for almost two months.
So, it was an "empty nesting" summer for me--except that my 5 year old was very much at home. It's amazing how full an empty nest can feel when one inquisitive, talkative, imaginative 5 year old girl is busy coloring, cutting, pasting, and riding her bike through the house--yes, through the house.

I learned a lot about myself this summer--and not all of it makes me proud of myself. I find straddling the parenting spectrum of young adult children and a kindergartner awkward. Challenging. Some days I managed to balance it all--and some days I sulked.

More on that later.

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