George Turns SIX

Every year I have this avoidance to George turning another year older. I mean didn’t we just celebrate one? I ask myself how can this be?

But here we are, six years old.

Not that I am a seasoned parent or by any means an expert at anything with motherhood, however George has taught me a lot by making me a mom.

In honor of his sixth birthday today, here are six things that I have learned from my first born.

  • Imagination is not to be fooled with.

This kid comes up with the most creative creations. He is really good at coming up with storylines and rethinking how to use things. His room is a total mess, which is something I have to let go of because he had dreamed up that he built a fort, a railway, or channels for a boat system. Things are not always what they seem. He has taught me so much about looking beyond the confines of normalcy and not sticking within the lines. I need to be able to let him loose with his ideas and hold on to his plans for creations because that will serve him well later on in life.

  • There is always reason to celebrate.

George is always ready to party. He loves ALL holidays and relishes in decorating our house with all the things. He is always asking what the next holiday is, and you can see his eyes just gleam from the excitement. He also is just so excited about the little things. He loves to create opportunities to rejoice in the day to day things. And he is so appreciative of the celebrations. “Treat yo’ self” is his mantra. And celebrations always bring on sugary treats, which are always necessary!

  • A hug is always a good remedy.

If anyone knows me well, they know that I am not a hugger. These are reserved for very few folks in my life, and I will not usually volunteer to do them. However, this kid has melted me down. He is the best hugger ever. And touch has got to be one of his love languages, because he gives about a million hugs a day. In our embraces we have so many meaningful moments. Sometimes they are breakthroughs from arguments and power struggles. Sometimes they are to comfort us when we are sad to just let someone know we are there. Sometimes they are just to remind each other of our immense love for one another. It is hard to not feel some goodness when you have your arms wrapped around someone else. They have definitely been mood stabilizers for us over the last six years. Hugs are George’s love currency.

  • Plans are not always what they are cracked up to be.

George has been “lovingly” reminding us lately that “sometimes plans change, and that’s ok.” This is honestly one of the biggest lessons for me as someone who loves to have a plan and a list at hand. Plans are my way to control things. If there is anything about parenthood that is constant is that plans are going to change. Literally from the moment George was conceived, things are not as I planned them. I didn’t imagine finding out that I was pregnant at a fertility specialist. I didn’t plan on delivering my baby 3 weeks early and having to deal with the NICU. I didn’t plan on littering my house with Legos. But things happen, and that’s ok. I have had to learn a lot about acceptance and letting things be as they may instead of trying to predict and control it all. George is also not a kid who is easily controlled for he often has plans of his own that do not align with mine…

  • Patience

And that leads us to patience. What parent doesn’t say that they have learned patience with parenting? Or better yet, it has showed me how impatient I really am. Along the same lines as the plans, I have to remember that I cannot make George make the decisions that I want him to. He is becoming his own person. And with that he has to make mistakes and make messes of things so he can learn for the next time. It’s these moments that it could be so easy for me to just swoop in and make things happen or to banish him to his room because I just can’t take it anymore. I have to give him opportunities to make his own decisions even if they aren’t the ones that I think are best. It’s the only way he will learn how to work with others, do chores, or clean up his own mistakes. I cannot be a fixer all the time or just yell at him for not putting away his clothes for the millionth time. Patience and prayer my friends.

  • I have learned the most about love.

I thought I knew a lot about what love should be and could be. But until I had George, I never really knew the magnitude of what love could do to you as a being. I mean I love Tom, but there is something about a kid that changes every piece of who you are. There is more love than I could ever imagine. And a lot of that is because of who George is. He loves so immensely and with his whole little body that it is hard not to want to experience that with him. He has taught me that true love means forgiveness and letting things go. He has taught me that true love sometimes also means tough love and not letting you off the hook when you are wrong. He taught me that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved so fully. He has taught me so much about filling other people’s cups and being thoughtful with my interactions. He has taught me that love is a safe place to snuggle into at the end of the day. George is love through and through. And being loved by him is nothing short of magical.

Y’all this boy is everything that I never knew I needed. He is funny, smart, witty, and just a delight to be around. He is a ray of sunshine that just loves everyone around him so fully. He is confident and unapologetically himself ALL THE TIME. I love how he brings out the goofy in all of us, and the energy he exudes helps you to feel freedom when you are with him.

Although some day I do hope that he stops wearing his clothes inside out and backwards…Just saying.

Yesterday I asked him what he wanted to do on his last day as a five year old. He told me that there wasn’t anything left to do and that he was ready to be six. I responded with asking what he was excited about with being six, and he told me he was ready to go to school. So we have a big year ahead of us with Kindergarten on the horizon, and then becoming a big brother again to our newest little dude. I can’t wait to see what shenanigans he gets us into this year.

Happy Birthday Georgie Man. We love you big kid!

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!

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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I’ve Got Something to Tell You

I’ve got something to tell you.

Putting George in gymnastics ranks in the top 3 hardest things I have had to do parenting him.

Since he is not in daycare or around other kids his age besides in church, we really felt that he needed some structured time with kids. He is going to go to preschool next year, and we didn’t want that to be the first time he had a structured learning environment. He needs to learn some social norms like how to stand in line and taking turns, and you know not scream in excitement at our friends.

I’ve got something to tell you.

What I didn’t realize is that this gymnastics adventure would be as much of a learning opportunity for me as it was for him.

I won’t lie. It has been a struggle for him. He is very much used to one on one attention and guidance. To go into an environment where there were a lot of rules and 10+ other 4 year olds was a lot to take in.

He has cut in lines, walked off to other areas in the gym without his teachers, and also had a hard time keeping his hands to himself. And paying attention when there are so many moving parts in that gym is very difficult for him.

There were many days that he cried when we got there because he didn’t want to go, and then he would cry when it was done because he didn’t want to leave.

On more than one occasion George was not the only one crying.

I hate to admit it, but there were times I had to intervene and pull him out of the class to take a breather because his energy was a like a tornado  in a shop full of Precious Moment figurines.

I’ve got something to tell you.

This was the first time I realized in full that my role as a parent is to raise him to let him go. I had many feelings when I took him to the sitter for the first time when he was two months old. I knew then I was letting go of pieces of his childhood, but this experience has been different. I had to sit up and watch George just be, while having very little to no control over him. I had to watch him stumble and fall and pick himself back up time and time again. I had to watch him get reprimanded not only by his teachers but also his peers. I saw him be bullied, and I saw him be the bully. Being just a witness of the class showed things that made me cry on the way home and worry if we were doing things all wrong. I didn’t want to be that mom that intervened every time he took a misstep. I knew in the long run that stepping in defeated the purpose of him being there. There was no way for me to support him in the moment except by holding my breath and throwing up a lot of prayers that he could start containing himself and following instructions. I wanted him to make friends instead of getting laughed at for being the “wild one.” I just watched everything unfold from the bleachers. It was my Type A nightmare. I had to let him go. I had to let my control go and let George figure out how to be George independently of his family—independent of me.

I’ve got something to tell you.

We both grew from this last year.

Week to week, I saw George make improvements.

I saw him learn other kid’s names.

I saw him stand in line.

I saw him do “tricks” that he was scared to try that first day.

I saw him become more confident and proud of himself.

I saw him work hard to control his body and follow the rules.

I saw him start keeping his friends accountable to the rules like they had been keeping him accountable.

I saw him have a lot of great moments.

I also saw myself changing.

Over these months, I stopped worrying about what the other moms were thinking of my wild child. I started enjoying watching him just have the time of his life. I started soaking in how George is just as Georgie as he can be in every moment. I started realizing I was trying to force George into this perfect little box because of my societal expectations. I started relaxing and not dreading what trouble he would find himself in that day. I just let us both be, and we praised the wins and talked through the struggles on the way home. These days became our time together to grow, and I am so thankful for that.

I’ve got something to tell you.

I am so proud of this kid. This was a new adventure for us, and I am not sure who it was harder for. Letting go of our normal so he can start learning how to be a person was hard. Since he is home all the time, we have had a security blanket over him. I am terrified to lose my little snuggle bug, but at the same time I am so excited to see the littler person he is becoming. Most days George guided me along. We had to have some tough conversations following up on his behaviors after watching from the peanut gallery. I had to learn to navigate this weird area of parenting where I have to let him fumble his way through without wrapping him up in my mommy bubble wrap, and instead processed our day after the fact with “learning opportunities.” This parenting gig was really unfolding before me, and I see many processing car rides in our future.

These one hour classes where not ever perfect. But no one is. All I know is, he always went into every new trick with a big smile and great gusto like I have never seen.

Well except this time.

And this week was his last gymnastics class for awhile possibly ever if he seems to like soccer more. There was a moment where I watched him politely tell a girl “You are being mean and that hurts my feelings.” And then watch him quietly move away from the problem. Months ago, George would have yelled and caused a huge scene. Displaying his emotions appropriately is not always his strong suit. It was in this quiet moment that I realized even more so how every day now I have to let little pieces of him go so he can learn. I have to trust this process of growing up and letting him be. He is listening and learning. It may not always be on my timeline, but he is growing to be the best George he knows how to be today.

He is fearless and wonderful, but he is going to make mistakes. Watching this class from the bleachers reminded me that I cannot protect and shield him forever. It was hard to let that go because you want so much for your kids. And watching them struggle to fit in is never fun. But I also have to trust that we are giving George the tools to handle himself.

Gosh he is a sweet little boy, and I love him to pieces. He is just so uniquely George, and I can’t be mad about that even if it means he is not going to the Olympics some day for a great parallel bar routine. Our sermon today was about prioritizing love over rules, and gymnastics was our current real word example of that. George needs my love, and I need to be more forgiving of my rules, society rules, and expectations to be perfect every moment.

I’ve got something to tell you.

Parenting is not for the weak. We learn from them just as much as we teach them.

And yes gymnastics made me super emotional. But if I have learned anything through my walk with God, is that he will use random things to teach you and mold you.