Stuck in the in-between. That's how I'm feeling these days. Days are long and busy, but the weeks fly by. Life is one big routine of school and homework and practices, weekends are filled with games and church and trying to cram in yard work and time with friends or maybe, if we're lucky, an actual date night. Looking at the calendar is overwhelming, and that is still while keeping with our rule of "one extracurricular thing per kid." And sure, we're together, having family time, but it doesn't feel like family time. It feels like another thing to check off our list. I don't like feeling that way. These days are fleeting and I know I'm going to miss them. I love watching the boys when they're in their element. There's this amazing sense of pride and wonder as I watch the ones that grew inside of me use their abilities and talents, these people who are pieces of Brian and me...pieces of our parents and grandparents and sisters and brother...yes, it's miraculous when you really think about it. But right now I'm just so tired. And I'm working to get to a place where I embrace and enjoy it more and obsess over the busyness of it all less. But for today?
Today I make another cup of coffee and plop down on the couch to watch re-runs of my old favorite shows....like "Reba" because I love seeing her make the best of tough real life things, or "Boy Meets World" because that show has parents who actually parent, and the kids mess up and things aren't always tied up in a pretty little bow by the end but it always works out at some point. And because it has Mr. Feeny, and for the love, everyone needs a Mr. Feeny. Mine was Mr. Eklund, who I got the privilege of having for 4 different classes in high school, who I still think about with a smile, who pushed me hard, made me laugh, taught me more about U.S. History and World History and Art and Government and Economics (which was a miracle in itself because my brain isn't programmed for things like Economics) and who surprised us all with the big tears he wouldn't let fall when we graduated. Yes, everyone needs a Mr. Feeny, and I'm praying my boys find theirs, that teacher who really lives for teaching, who wholeheartedly invests in their lives and shows them what getting an education really means....it's more than academic, and when a teacher steps in to make an investment like that, you soak it up.
Watching seemingly silly old shows is comforting. It reminds me that none of us have it all figured out, and that's okay. We make decisions we think are best for our kids, for ourselves, for our family, and then send them out with one eye shut, cringing a little, hoping what we chose was best.
For these two, that meant starting at a new school this year. A switch from their sweet little private school where they started each day with praise and worship, to a big public elementary school where they don't. An excellent one, mind you, with teachers who are excited to teach and made us feel loved and welcomed instantly. A school with a different teaching method that appeals to the boys, one that is workshop style and project-based, more technology-driven...a welcome change for these two who thrive in a busy, out-of-your-seat learning style. We've seen how well that's worked for our oldest, and that helped. But still, it's new. It's big. It's not the same. We miss friends from their old school. We miss not knowing everybody like we did. I battled with this whole "Why fix something that's not broken" mentality...why make a change when there's nothing wrong with where they are? But in my heart I knew it was what we were supposed to do. That doesn't mean it wasn't a tough change. They didn't know many kids, and I know even fewer parents. And we had to pop that safe, happy bubble that I worked so hard to keep them in.
But guess what happened?
They did it. And they're thriving. They've taken to this new thing in their life with grace and ease. It's been pretty remarkable, really. Of course there were nerves and uncertainty, but that has quickly been replaced with confidence and independence. Seemingly simple things like taking the school bus home does a lot for how they feel about themselves and what they're capable of. Conversations about dealing with a difficult classmate has yielded maturity in making other decisions during the day. Teaching how to handle choices that are made and what having to stay true to a commitment means, even when it's hard and you want to quit, has made for a stronger, more self-aware little boy, who is now embracing that choice with a new attitude.
But for all the things they're learning, it might be me who is dealing with the greatest learning curve. I'm realizing that it's not my job to make their lives perfect. I can't do that anyway. My job is to be their safe place when they get home...the place to fall, to celebrate, to unwind, to learn how to handle what life throws at us.
I want them to know that no matter what happens during the day, they know where their people are. Their Dad and I? We're right here.
We need to see that they can navigate this world. We have to teach them that. Protecting them from experiencing things that aren't perfect and happy wasn't the right answer for us. Keeping them safe? Of course. Making sure they have the greatest education within our reach? Absolutely.
But with that comes letting them venture out of these boundary lines I inadvertently drew when they were very little. It means letting go a little more than what feels comfortable. It means trusting them to the One who created them, the One who knows them and yes, loves them even more than I do. And to quote Hunter when we talked about this, "Whoa. That's a lot of love." Sure is, buddy.
We're trying to raise men here in this house. And this "Be brave and strong and courageous. Seek adventure and truth" paper? It's now hanging on the wall outside their bedrooms. A reminder to all of us about the life we pray they will lead. A life we hope they see us leading.
I don't ever want to hinder what God has created them to be. I don't want to squelch the beauty that is being a boy, but I fear that I have time and time again, partly because raising boys was uncharted territory for me,and partly because I'm a worrier. A worrier who really wishes she wasn't, who daily has to give stuff over to God, the One who has it all under control anyway, way better than I ever could. I don't want fear to prevent adventure. Mine or theirs.
So we're taking this adventure one day at a time, realizing that our days look a lot alike right now. They're busy and full and it's easy to lose focus when you feel like you're in the trenches and doing good just to get from one thing to another on time. But there's more to life than that.
Be intentional. Make yourself stop for a bit. Really look at your kids and listen when they're telling you something important. Do that while they're little so they want to keep talking to you when they're older. This is what I'm working on today. Trying to remember that what we need to do isn't always as important as what we want to do.
Because if we keep ignoring the need for fun and adventure, we might miss the best parts. At the same time, if we get bogged down in the everyday-ness of life, we're going to miss the beauty in that too. We can't let that happen.
Pop that bubble, and trust all is well, one day at time. You've got this.