I’m sitting here in a dimly light kitchen while three-fifths of our family sleeps soundly in their beds and all I want, honest-to-goodness, hand-over-my-heart, all I want is to sleep. But one-fifth of our family is suddenly feeling very scared of the dark and can’t fall asleep. You know it’s funny, you think once you stop with the midnight feedings and diapers you will actually get to sleep like a normal person again.
All of our kids have been on the struggle bus lately. Lots of big feelings. LOTS. Something shifted for them recently, but really we’re all feeling it. It’s the click, click, click of the ride when it’s far too late to change your mind and that big hill is getting closer. Only now as summer is closing, it feels more like click….click…….click……..and then, we plunge. The stomach-in-your-throat, “I don’t know if I’m going to make it. I might like this or I might have made the biggest mistake of my life” feeling is just under the surface, waiting. Waiting exactly 12 days and then...we plunge. The closer we get to the beginning of the school year, the slower and scarier those clicks become.
This ride starts with that too slow and too fast jolt over the biggest hill you’ve ever seen. That’s how it works, that’s how all roller coasters get their momentum and speed, and excitement. That’s also how major life changes work, the too slow and too fast jolt over the biggest thing.
The utter delight and excitement I have can only be matched by the pain in my stomach and tears that come with no warning. All my babies are growing and going and living a little tiny bit of their own lives away from me. All of them will be out of my protection for hours, not able to get a pep talk or a hug until we see each other after whatever happened, has already happened.
I’m feeling all the maternal feelings, but also I’m feeling an excited anticipation. Really, I promise. I can be my own self for hours each weekday. I can be independent and brave and conquer projects and dreams and do good things. And I can also do all the chores and the errands and then have mind-space to give actual attention to my kids when we reunite. And! They are learning! And having fun! And learning their giftedness. And making friends. And having their own little agendas and purposes for each day.
In this whirlpool of emotions, I’m trusting that after the plunge we will all be doing great and adjusting very well. But I’d be a fool and a liar if I couldn’t admit that the click, click, click and the steep plunge at the beginning are going to be….well, they are going to be what they are: kind of terrifying. I’ve had a baby, toddler or child with me every day for 8 (9 if you count pregnancy time) years. Almost a decade of having a little chick under my wing. Ugh….why did I wait in line so eagerly for this school roller coaster ride again?
Then again...quiet coffee shops and mompreuring doesn’t sound so bad.