At no point 18 years ago when I wanted to become pregnant did I think about anything other than a baby. When I thought about parenthood my only thoughts were of that tiny baby I would hold in my arms. I knew that I would have sleepless nights, but I thought it would be for feedings, and changings. Even when I had subsequent pregnancies I only thought about that tiny baby. At no point in the pregnancy books do they prepare you for anything after the first year. I'm not sure that if there was a chapter at the back for the after one year information that it would have prepared me. Nothing prepares you for the sleepless nights of worry. I worry about each of the kids and the problems of the day (Why doesn't so and so like them? Why is that teacher so mean, is it just to them? Is that cough serious?). Perhaps the worst worries are the worries that I am doing my best. Am I the best mother that I can be? To that horrid enduring question the answer is always NO! Nothing prepared me for the level of self abuse that I would hurl at myself.
Elly will be going to school this September. This year our school has instituted all day, everyday kindergarden. Elly will not turn 4 until the middle of October. All day, every day is just too much. Then I start to think is all day, every day too much for her, or is it too much for me? I am loosing my baby. My last baby. I honestly feel anxiety when I think about her going to school everyday, or if I were being honest, it's not the going to school everyday, it's the being away from her all day, everyday.
Sometimes I feel like I have squandered my time with her. Like I don't spend enough quality time with her. I spend every day with her, but how many hours of that day are devoted strictly to her? Not many. I feel like I have squandered my last baby, and now that she is about to embark on her school career, I have run out of time.
I think back to the mother that I was 17 years ago. I made time for Gabe, I was devoted to Gabe. I did crafts with him everyday. He was my world. I try to remind myself that 17 years ago I was a young woman. 17 years ago I had one child. 17 years ago I had a whole soul. It sounds melodramatic, but when Gabe died, I truly feel like most of my soul went with him. Luckily these kids don't know "Gabe's" mom, they know "their" mom. Sometimes I remind myself that I am a more patient mom now. I am a stronger more confident mom now. I am who I am, and offer my best most of the time. I need to be kinder to myself. I would not be this harsh on anyone else.
Friday I felt the loss of time with Elly very strongly. For once instead of bemoaning the loss, I decided to make the most of the day. I hate taking her to the park, I get bored. Friday morning, I took her to the local park. She made a new friend. She laughed and laughed. She had a great morning. It was one hour of my time, and it was well time well spent. I seized the day!
After lunch I found a Sponge Bob Square Pants sun catcher kit that I had been given as a gift several years ago. It had sat on a shelf because it seemed like too much work, too messy. I put a black garbage bag on the table, and Elly and I painted the sun catcher. We giggled... a lot. We had a really fun time. I wondered why I had put this off so long. She felt so proud of the finished product. It wasn't really that messy (the paint eventually washed off of my hands). I seized the day!
Last night, just before Elly came to her bed, I hung the sun catcher on her window. When she walked into her room, it was the first thing that she saw. She was so excited, and so proud of her work. She called Daddy, and Riley, and Rowan, and Grace in to see her beautiful art. She had this glowing smile on her little face. I felt like a good mommy. I seized the day!
The moral of this story.... I need to be kinder to myself. I know that I am a good mom. My kids know that I am a good mom. I am the mom that the school calls for trips. I am the mom who mothers the children at school. I am the mother who started a snowsuit charity to ensure that all children are warm in the winter. I am the mom who fought for our school's breakfast club. I am the mom who stays up until 2 in the morning finishing elaborate cakes for the kid's classes. I am a good mom, I am not the same mom I was even 7 years ago when I still had my Gabe, that's o.k., not many mom's would be. Having said all of that, I have room for improvement. I know better than maybe anyone how short time is. I need to make better use of my time. I have two more weeks of just Elly before summer vacation starts. I am going to seize each one of those days. I am going to make the most of what I have.