As I my fingers tap the keys here at our old kitchen table, Alfie boy is upstairs taking a cozy nap in his crib, Theodore is to my left slurping egg noodles from last night’s supper, and Stella is off at school learning about apple trees and how to put on a puppet show. It’s strange not having her here, I admit. The house is quieter. There is less talk of fairies. No pitter-patter of little ones playing chase, and one less helper in the kitchen in the mornings. We are a few weeks now into our new rhythm, and still, it all seems a bit off to me. I am still in the adjustment phase, I suppose.
The both of us had been looking forward to the start of our new routine for months now. Last spring Stella would see children playing on the playground as we took our daily walk by the schoolyard and she would always inquire when would it be her turn? As much as I wish I could keep my babies here at home with me forever (and ever and ever and ever) I know how good it will be for them to learn and play in a nurturing environment outside of these walls too. We are doing a balance of school in addition to me homeschooling a few days a week, a routine a bit unconventional in the realm of education, but it’s what our family needs right now. I am walking into this new territory with an open hand, for most days I feel I am just winging it and trying to find a groove for the four of us.
As I think back to Stella’s first day the one word that comes to mind is nervous. Nervous, not because she walked in there so confidently away from my arms and into a world out of my control, but more so nervous because I feel as though I have to start all over again. Nervous for me. Nervous as I reflect on what I am able to give and whether or not I’ll be able to give it. It’s just the boys and I three days a week our new schedule is not something I feel good about just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving our one on one time, but I miss my girl and what we had. Last week on days she had school outside of our home, she’d eagerly skip into her classroom towards her new friends, so happy to be there. It’s beautiful and sort of remarkable to me how my five year old’s own self-assuredness has made me ponder my own insecurities with regard to this new season of motherhood I’ve just entered into. It has actually made me push back some of my anxieties, using her confidence as fuel.
Stella is also learning other things right now that often make me step back and appreciate how much she has grown up these past few months and how much she yearns to do things independently. She now cuts veggies for supper, helps me sort laundry, wipes down the tables, unloads the silverware, washes potatoes, is able to write little notes, and is right around the corner of learning how to tie her own shoe laces. Onto big girl shoes like mama. We got the same mama/daughter pair from Famous Footwear before school, white and shiny converse kicks to help her celebrate the new year because shoe tying is something she wanted to have down pat by her first day of Kindergarten. We are getting there…and you know something? I feel like “we are getting there” could be my parenting motto right now. There are so many things we are doing well, things that are flowing in the right direction and helping us grow as a family, but there are also things that we are still trying to nail down. Things that only time and heaps of patience will help settle into place. For myself, I am still figuring out how to incorporate self-care into my daily rhythm. For example, how to give myself guilt-free permission to do things that both restore my energy and help balance my emotions outside of our home. Practices like yoga and art classes that engage parts of my brain and body that give me strength to do what I do with my babes each and every day. Seeing Stella thrive in her new school environment is a reminder that we all need time alone to ignite self-motivation, creativity and to embrace renewal that comes with some solo ventures.
After school she comes home with stories upon stories, brimming with the most magical details about how her day went. I see it in her eyes. She loves school. As a mother, what more could I want? It’s really beautiful to see her adjusting so well. And as for me, well, well I am getting there. I am taking each day as it comes and trying my best to sift through all the bits to see what works and what doesn’t, casting away the moments that feel off while trying not to be too hard on myself in the process. Most days, I am trying to figure out how to best incorporate naps times and when to go to the market and when to go to the park without wearing myself down, or neglecting the simple routines we love so well, like reading and making crafts each day. I feel like motherhood is like teaching, where learning to adapt with grace just might be the ticket!
Truth be told, watching Stella embrace this new chapter so well is pushing me towards a more confident path myself. Isn’t something how much our babies teach us? They seem to find ways to illuminate the simple truths in life without even realizing it. So this is where the boys and I are right now, in a place of trying things on and seeing how they fit. Although strange because of it’s newness and unfamiliarity, I feel like will find our footing fairly soon and not feel so unhinged. And if anything, I’ve got one happy learner who is helping light up the way for her mama, showing me that a little conviction can help quite a bit. And that last photo of Stella, she looks five going on twenty five. Time is flyin’!
P.S. There is a giveaway happening right now over on my Instagram account. Head there to enter for a chance to win a gift card. Winner will be chosen tomorrow afternoon.
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Katie - It’s so great that Stella is confident going into school! It shows that she feels love and security in the lifestyle you and Andrew have fostered her in. You two must be doing something right. I’m sure you will get into a smooth rhythm soon!
Lauren - I relate to it all!
About the self care stuff, I love this post from Shutterbean, where she talks about nurturing your creative side:
Lindsay - Oh I so feel this. So much. Ru started two mornings a week, two weeks ago and it is both wonderful and so very odd. Our plan has always been to homeschool in some capacity and lucky for us there is the most wonderful school here that is designed for homeschooled families so she is able to get the richness of both a school environment and home environment. And it is so her personality. She craves the interaction with other children and is beyond thrilled that she has teachers and classroom rules and gets to go help with the class garden and class fish and work alongside other kids. And I love that I can give her those things while still being the primary teacher in her life. I’m just so grateful we are all able to choose how we want to educate our children these days. While this path is still somewhat unconventional, it sits so well with us. I am excited to watch as your schooling journey continues too! 🙂