I think everyone in our family is entering into a new stage of life. It's not even September, but 2014 has been such a big time of change. Obviously, we moved hundreds of miles away to a new city and state. We got a new house in an urban area. Andrew obviously got a new job with new responsibilities. Everything is so different, and there are more changes to come!
I'll start with the youngest family member: Jo. Joanna has been out of diapers for about two months now, thankfully! She continues to get more and more independent and will even go upstairs and play in her room with her toys by herself. She enjoys playing with Oliver, too, and enjoys spending time with the family, but her independence is remarkable. As the youngest, her growing up sometimes hits me hard.
Oliver has big, big change this year. He's starting preschool! Preschool is fully paid by the city here, so he will go to the four day a week program at no cost to us. He has a friend down the block who is going to class with him. Unlike Jo, Oliver wasn't a very independent toddler at all, so I wasn't sure how he'd do with going to school. I think it would have been a disaster if we took him last year, but he's really been maturing lately. We took him to preschool open house, and he happily wandered off from us to explore his class and play with his soon-to-be classmates. I feel so absolutely proud of him and how hard he works do figure things out and do things by himself. I read him a little list of things he'll be expected to do every day when he gets to class (like wash his hands), and he went straight to the sink in his class to practice and make sure he could do it all by himself.
Knowing Oliver is going to preschool has really affected me more than I'd thought. I'm sometimes dealing with feelings of extreme anxiety and sometimes sadness (and sometimes pride and excitement, too). I've been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years now, and my kids' entire lives have pretty much been with me. We spend our days together, garden together, snuggle together, sit together for meals. And now he's going off to preschool four days a week! I'm dealing some some practical potential problems in my mind, like will he do a good job listening to his teachers? Will he do a good job asking them for help if he can't do something, or will he just get mad? Will he do a good job taking turns with other kids and working with them? I completely, 100% want him to succeed and love school, but there's also this little voice in the back of my head wondering if he's going to miss me. I know I'll still be there! We will have our afternoons together and weekends together and everything else. There's no doubting, though, that this is a bit of a milestone, and he's going to start to have his own life separate from mine. That's a very good thing, of course, but it still makes me feel so sad.
I guess I've started to see this change as a big change for me, too. As I said, I've been home with the kids for five years. That's five years of no work experience! In just two short years, it'll be Jo going off to preschool. What am I going to do? The plan has always been for me to go back to work. It's definitely what I want to do, but I didn't expect the prospect of going back to work to be so terrifying. So, I've decided to try out a couple of classes to see about pursuing a master's degree. I think going back to school will help me get a job again once Jo starts full time school. It seems like such a good plan, but now that it's time to start classes, I'm starting to panic! I find myself worrying about so many stupid things, like do all students bring laptops to class now? Will I be the weird one with a notepad and pen? I'm also thinking about how crazy it's going to be that I'm going to have to somewhere to be at a specific time, and I'm going to have to drive there even if there's a total downpour or snow on the ground. I mean, I have had the luxury of choosing not to drive on days that are too hot or wet or snowy.
It took me a long time to adjust to life as a stay-at-home mom. It's not easy being home so much and not having people to talk to during the day. But now, that is my normal. Now that I'm used to always being at home with the kids and always deciding what to do on what day and not having to talk very much, the idea of spending more time out of the house is a bit scary. I think it's going to take me a long time to adjust back into a life outside of the home.
From 2009 to 2014, my life was about my babies. I was pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly four years. I was home caring for babies and toddlers and wiping butts and potty training, too. I was a mom of babies. This year is marking a distinct change in our roles in life. It's going to be weird doing things for myself and working on my future now, and it's going to be weird taking Oliver to school and saying goodbye for *hours* during the day. I know his growing independence is a good thing, and I definitely wouldn't want to keep him from growing as a person, but the upcoming changes are going to be hard. My plan is to do my best and put one foot in front of the other until these changes become our new normal.
As for everyone else, if your babies aren't in school yet, enjoy this time as much as you can (poop and all) because it really is over before you know it. If your kids have already been to school, I hope it's a fun and easy back-to-school year. For moms in my shoes with little ones going off to school for the first time--good luck, and I hope school is a wonderful experience!