Today my youngest is on her very first field trip, which is kind-of a milestone. This is her first year to go to Mother's Day Out or anything like it, and she is loving the experience. Five-year-old Katie tends to be my clingy child--my baby--so I was a bit uncertain about her confidence in taking on this new experience. Boy, was I wrong! She is so disappointed that "school" is only two days a week, and she jumps right out of bed, in a hurry to get dressed and ready, on those two days of the week. And when we walk into the building, she practically leaves me behind as she makes her way to her classroom. At least she gives me a good-bye hug and kiss.
Today her class was going to the Natural Science Museum, and Katie was pumped. We have been to this museum before, and she remembered it. Actually, what she remembered most was that they sell lollipops in the gift shop. "They have lollipops there! Don't you remember the lollipops?," she said to her Daddy this morning when he inquired about her excitement about the day's outing. Nevermind that there had been dinosaurs and two-headed snakes; there were LOLLIPOPS!
It makes me really happy that Katie is excited about this next phase of life. Being the youngest, she has been stuck at home with Mommy while the other two have been in school for a few years. So she's glad to have friends her own age to play with and an activity to call her own. It is helping her to be more independent, which is good for both of us.
To be honest, I was a little uncertain about my own readiness for this new phase. But I've managed to adjust really well, too. :) I have been a stay-at-home mom for eight and a half years (and changed diapers every day for six and a half of those years!), and this is the first time that I have designated hours every week where my children have somewhere to be, and I don't have to be there with them.
Let that sink in for a minute. I still am.
Don't take this the wrong way. I absolutely love and adore my children, and I love being with them. But . . . I also really benefit from time alone. I enjoy getting to choose whether I want to be in a quiet or noisy environment. I enjoy having time to run errands by myself. I enjoy getting out of the house. I enjoy getting to work on my hobbies or to-do list. I enjoy a lot fewer interruptions. I enjoy being productive. I enjoy having time to pursue my writing. And I even enjoy missing my children . . . and their missing me. It's good to have some time apart.
Motherhood is full of phases. Some are good; some are hard; many are both. Some seem to last forever (like potty training or teaching a newborn to sleep through the night); others go by in a flash (like the last eight and a half years of my life). A friend of ours recently pointed out that we are most likely at the half-way point in the time that we will have our eldest child at home with us. Sheesh.
I know a lot of parents (myself included) can get caught up in wanting things to stay the same and mourning our children's growing up. Personally, I would love to have frozen my children at the ages of three, five, and seven. But I can't. And that's okay. As my mother once told me, there are joys in every stage of your children's lives. It is so much fun to watch them develop and learn and become their own persons. I am so proud of Callie, Caleb, and Katie. I love their spirit and their growing independence. I love to watch them learn about life. I love to hear them share with me about their experiences at school. There are many more stories to come!
While I do still have my "I can't believe how fast they're growing" moments, I am just as excited about this next phase as they are.