Beginnings and Endings

I have found that with parenting, once a new phase begins you are not only dealing with the excitement of the new phase but also the feelings of leaving another phase behind. The art of watching your kids growing up is bittersweet.

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This last week I have been pondering on this thought quite a bit as both of my kids are going through pivotal moments. We registered George for kindergarten, and Daphne is now potty trained and moved out of a crib.

I am not ok.

The stark difference of what these things mean has left me in a weird place.

THEY LOOK SO GROWN.

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I am so excited to see George start big-all-day-kid school. I love learning, and school was a magical place for me growing up. I see that curiosity in George, and I know he will love it. But there is also this sadness that there will be so much of his world that I no longer know. I wrote about the emotions of sending him off to preschool this fall, but something about kindergarten is even more momentous.

And with Daph, potty training is such a big step in toddlerhood. For the most part, I am so ecstatic to no longer have diapers in my house. I feel a sense of freedom for us all with letting her learn more about her body and taking control of herself. She also moved out of the crib like it was no big deal, however my insides were breaking since that bed had been a crib for both my babies over the last 6 years. And while I am so proud of her walking into this next phase with so much confidence, part of me knows that the diapers and crib were the last of the babyhood stage.

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The thing about independence is that I believe it is the thing we all hope that our kids have when they get older, but man is it hard to see it slip away.

It’s funny that there are many stages that we see coming, like registering for Kindergarten. I have seen this coming since he was born. Yet it is still hard to know I am watching a season of our lives end this year. I wonder all the time if we are doing this phase justice and doing all the we can to make it positively memorable and impactful.

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Then there are other stages that you don’t even realize are gone until you are well into the next one.

There was a day with both kids that it was the last time I rocked them to sleep, but I don’t recall thinking let’s change up the routine. I couldn’t even tell you when that stopped for both. In my head, I am distraught because how could I forget that!

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I am not sure which is harder on the emotions: the ones you see coming and plan for or the ones that change with more subtlety. Either way when the worry of one phase ends the worry of the new phase comes flooding in to take it’s predecessor’s place.

As we are entering full force into the big kid years, I am trying to remain present. As I watched Daphne this weekend, I was reminded that it is all fleeting. I wonder all the time if the snuggles George asks for will be the last ones or when Daphne decides she doesn’t want to make me a bedtime snack of plastic food before I tuck her in. My heart just breaks thinking I might miss the significance of the last ask. So let’s read an extra book or build one more Lego structure.

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It is like there is a little mourning that happens with things of each phase. There are days that I really miss the sweet newborn stages, but then I see moments like tonight where George came in to comfort his sister when she was hurt. If he stayed a newborn, I would never get to experience watching their relationship evolve.

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But that is the push and pull of parenthood I guess. There are often times we are looking for a phase to end and rushing into the next one (hello George at 4…). Then other moments I never want to leave the sweet innocence, or I look back and weep that they have grown so much in a blink of an eye.

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I am not sure I am really saying anything profound. Parenting is this weird mix of polarizing feelings. I am sad my babies are growing into big kids, but I am happy seeing how fun the big kid stage can be. I am sad that it seems that they need me less, but I am happy that they are figuring out their own way. I am sad that there are things about their lives that we will never experience again, but I am happy to welcome all the new experiences we will have together.

With the beginning of each new season, brings an end to another. There is some poetry in that I suppose. I could see that if we stayed in a season for too long, you would lose sight of it’s beauty. It does give us something to hope for with the change, and something to look fondly back on when we have forgotten the mess of it all. I guess we are in each season as long as we need to be, and we can thank God for that.

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These kids I tell ya. The things they do to my heart!

To My 2.5 Year Old

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Daphie,

Today you are half way to three. You have grown so much in the last six months.

First of all your vocabulary has exploded. You used to say bangkock for blanket and potholes for Paw Patrol. While there are still times, I am not sure what you are saying, you get clearer by the minute. Your sentence structure amazes me most days.

You are in love with every stuffed animal that crosses your bath. You have a zoo in your crib, and you make me tuck everyone in before kissing you goodnight. And then every morning, you pick out a bow for yourself and your bunny friends. This makes me think that you will have your own rescue shelter in your adult life. Rarely are you without a stuffie to love and hold.

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You are a complete puzzle master. You are able to keep up with your brother on finding the next piece. You love putting the pictures together, and you rarely need guidance anymore.

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You love to create art. Painting is your favorite, but you love working with play-do and crayons. Every night you direct us to look at the wall of art that you have created with so much pride. You could sit at the kitchen table for hours with your art.

Much to our dismay, you have become a picky eater. You hardly eat meat, but love carbs and fruit. But you also know how to bribe your daddy to give you treats in secret by taking him to the pantry and saying “shhhh.”

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While you don’t stray far from your people, you can tell you will be fierce and are not afraid to try new things. You love to test your physical limits to keep up with the big kids. I know when you commit to something, you are all in.

You know exactly what you want out of your day, and I feel that you will always live every moment to the fullest. You don’t let much get in your way. And I love and admire that about you.

You refuse to go to the church nursery, and you love to try to add a little color to the hymnals and talk to the pastor all through the sermon.

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You also love your brother fiercely. I think you push yourself to reach his level, which has been amazing to see you try to catch up to someone who is three years older.

At the same time, you are a force with him. While most of the time you are George’s shadow, you put him in his place when he is being ridiculous. For being half his size, you hold your own against that big brother of yours. I pray every day that your relationship makes you stronger and give you the skills to command any room that you are in.

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Your laugh and smile light up the room, but you definitely make people work for them. You don’t give up your love for free (unless it is for a stuffie) which is something I hope that you continue to expect when you get older.

I knew having a girl would make me grow, but I never knew how much it would change me. Being around you Daphne is a constant reminder of how I hope to be as a woman and as a mother. It has helped me with my own self talk, because I never want you to hear the things I used to say to myself.

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I love our daily mantras:

  • You are brave.
  • You are smart.
  • You are strong.
  • You are kind.
  • You are funny.
  • You are capable.
  • You are Daphie.

You are my perfect little girl, and I love every bit or your toddler self.

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George Gabs

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George is always saying something that either sends us into a fit of laughter, or I am just in shock at how he little brain is working.

Here are just a few I have made note of.

Every night we spend some time processing the day and praying for help. This night we were praying for Jesus to help George as he struggles to share with his sister.

George-I think I hear Jesus.

Me-Oh yea? What is he saying?

George-I don’t know. Where is he?

Me-He lives in your heart, and mommy’s heart.

George. Yes Jesus isn’t a person, he is a present.

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George was cupping is hand weird, so I asked him what he was holding.

George-There is something wrong with my hand. 

Me-Oh yea? 

George-It’s a little tired. 

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Me-What do you want for lunch, George? 

George-Nothing. I don’t want to eat today. 

Me-Well you have to eat to grow. 

George-Well I only grow on Thursdays. 

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We were watching the Daniel Tiger episode where he was getting shots to prepare the kids for their shots.

George-Sometimes those shots hurt. But I just close my eyes and think of you, Mommy. 

Another heart warming moment was with Tom.

George-You fill my tummy with hearts. 

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We have a lot of fun stories of George procrastinating bed time and reading.

George-Mom, I have a hard time going to sleep because I just have so many books around me. I just love to read them all. 

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Another time…

George-I am going to read you a book. 

Me-Ok great. 

George as he looks at me with puppy eyes-Say the words when I turn the page. 

Me-That’s me reading, not you reading. 

George-No that’s sharing, and sharing is kind. 

Kids are gross. I asked George to blow his nose, and he wouldn’t so I lovingly helped him wipe his nose. He was so distraught that I took a booger.

George-I need to put them back. My nose is their home, and they have friends in there to keep them company. 

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Then sometimes they have wisdom. This statement was one of his late night bed time rambles that was out of the blue.

George-Everybody makes mistakes. It’s ok. Everyone makes them. Astronauts, Ava, everybody. They just happen all the time. You just try again, and then you’ll feel happy. 

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This kid also LOVES Christmas. He is the new Buddy the Elf.

Me-Do you know what is after 4th of July? 

George-What?

Me-Your Birthday

George-Then its CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas!

His birthday is in August…

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George-I love the four seasons: Summer, fall, Christmas, and winter. 

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This last summer our area suffered from some severe floods, which is the first time George has seen anything like that. We talked a lot about how floods happened and the affects of them. In our outings we kept seeing the waters change and get farther inland from the river.

George-Is our house going to be ok?

Us-Yes, we live high on a hill. 

George-Is Ms. Kim’s school (his preschool) going to be ok? 

Us-It should be. 

At this point, George is in tears. 

George-Is McDonald’s going to be ok? 

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And I saved my favorite for last.

George-Mommy, I have a big poop. It’s as big as a blue whale, but it might act like a shark whale. 

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Ahhh kids.

 

We’re Going to Be Okay

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This week we sent our little man off to school for the first time. George started preschool, and it was an emotional event for us all.

You see, George has never been in a school setting. He has been at home with my mom for the last two years and in an in-home care setting his first three years.

While we love him being at home, we knew that he needed to have some practice with the structure before he goes to Kindergarten. (In Missouri, the cutoff for Kindergarten is to be five by August 1st. Since he is late August, he will be 6 when he starts Kindergarten. I could write a whole other post why this is completely fine by us that he will have another year to mature before going to a full day of school.)

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My anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly head all week in the anticipation of letting him go.

  • What if he hates school?
  • What if he doesn’t make friends?
  • Will he remember to use his manners?
  • Will he eat food with strangers?
  • Will he remember to tell the teacher if he needs to go the bathroom?
  • Or will he forget he is in public and try to pee outside on the playground?
  • What if he stands in line like he does at gymnastics?
  • What if, what if, what if?

I felt like I was losing control in so many ways.

We read a lot of books about school. We talked about all the fun things he would do. We pumped up all the benefits and rewards of school.

However, I wasn’t the only one with anxiety. George also didn’t feel ready.

Every time we brought up school, he would start crying and say he didn’t want to leave the house. We would drive by the school, and he would tell me he wasn’t going to go.

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Then we went to meet the teacher. Oh boy. I literally had to drag George into the school and then through the halls to the class. He dug in his heels the whole way.

He started breaking down, but eventually we got him into the room with the toy stations. Then I had an emotional breakdown as I was explaining how he has been at home…in front of his teacher.

We are two peas in a pod for sure.

His teacher is a gem, and we couldn’t be luckier to have her help us transition into this.

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I just am really struggling with this age and transition. He isn’t my baby anymore. And it doesn’t make it easier that he is also having a lot of anxiety about it. I guess we are playing off of each other of not wanting to let go.

But here comes the first day of school.

He skipped proudly to the car with his new backpack.

He found his cubby and chair with ease.

He didn’t have any tears until right before Tom and I left.

However there was a moment as we were standing in line waiting for the bell to signal us into the room that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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A little girl came with big alligator tears, bubbling to her mom, “I wanna go home. I don’t wanna be here.” This was the scene I thought we were going to have so I had all the sympathy for this mom.

Then my sweet little five year old, in this very crowded hallway, walked towards this new classmate that he has never met . He says confidently to her, “It’s ok. I was a little shy too. We are gonna be ok.”

My heart exploded, and it was all I could do to not start sobbing myself.

My five year old is ready.

Yes, it is going to be scary.

Yes, there is a lot of unknown.

Yes, it is like my heart is breaking every time we drop him off.

Yes, I have lost some control.

But he is becoming his own little person, and a good little person at that.

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It was a nudge that I needed to look at my what ifs in a different way.

  • What if he makes a forever friend?
  • What if he never wants to leave school because he is having so much fun?
  • What if he learns to try new foods because he sees his friends eating?
  • What if he starts washing his hands regularly instead of just making bubbles in the sink?
  • What if he is the one in class to set an example on kindness?
  • What if, what if, what if?

This was a God moment to remind me we are ready, and we are gonna be ok.

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How did you feel on your kid’s first day of school? Does it get easier as they get older?

 

 

George Turns Five

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George,

I can hardly believe that five years ago we were meeting face to face. There is something about you turning five that I am really struggling with as your mom. It is like the start of the end of you being all mine. This being a whole hand has me reeling about the fact that things are changing for us.

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This last year has been a learning experience for us all. Since your last birthday, you have been finding your big kid voice (in volume and in content). With that has come some struggles from all parties, but I am also so proud that you believe in yourself 110%. While it can be super frustrating to argue with you, I know that you are just trying to navigate your little world and make it just a little bigger around you. You also demand attention in a way that I know you will never be forgotten in whatever circle you find yourself in.

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I admire you so much Georgie. You move through your day with such conviction. You know exactly what you want out of each moment, and you will move mountains to seize the day. You already have your own principles that you stick to. When I was your age (and much past), I was such a rule follower and tried to stay hidden in the “norm.” But not you. You, my dear boy, are anything but conventional and live to be different. You are just confident in who you are already at five, and you aren’t afraid to just be George. I love that you are a tad wild, even though it scares the poop out of me most days.

There are pieces of you that are still a little boy, and I will take every snuggle and kiss that I can. You still love for me to carry you down in the morning, and I wonder every day if it is the last day for me to hold you close like that. You are getting so big; big enough that people mistake you for a kindergartner or first grader all the time.

I wish I could bottle up your energy. You are in constant motion or emphatically screaming a monologue for all the world to hear. You feel every emotion at the highest level possible. You can be exhausting, but I wouldn’t change your enthusiasm for anything.

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Your little brain amazes me by all the big things that it does. You are so funny. You have one liners just like your daddy, and I love that you make us laugh every single day. Your imagination has kept you up way past your bedtime as you create carnivals, constructions sites, and live out rescue missions. But you don’t live in fantasy all the time; you also retain facts like I can’t believe. The things you know about science astounds me. You love to learn and create, and I cannot wait for all the adventures you will have this year in school.

I love that you believe that everyone is your cousin, and that we are all family. It’s a little reminder to me that God is speaking through you that we should all love one another like family. You often tell me that you love your friends even if you have only known them for short periods of time. You love so fiercely, and being loved by you is truly a gift.

I know that you were born to do great things. Just the other day, we were having a “conversation” about our listening skills, when you paused and looked straight into my soul and said, “Mommy, I was listening when God made me.” Talk about a reminder. You have given me so much anxiety over the past 5 years, but you have also taught me to let things go more. Lord knows one of my biggest hang ups in life is losing control. So when He gave me you, someone else who also likes to be in control, He was teaching me about being okay with loosening the reigns or the fact that I cannot find the reigns at all. Being your mom has taught me more about prayer than I had ever known before you.

Thank you for being just the best little wild man we could have ever asked for. I thank God every day that I get to be your mommy.  When you were born, a part of me was born too so thank you for helping me become me and listening to God at just the right time.

Love you to Pluto and back,

Mommy

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