I think I just went through a pretty major transition without really taking the time to notice and wonder in it. And so, I'm paying for that now, just a bit. I'm reflecting and processing a full year-and-a-half later. There even might be a little bit of grieving involved.
Don't worry, I'm still completely outnumbered. That will never change. You should have seen me in Winco last week. I was the irritated mother of three boys who thought the grocery cart was a jungle gym or a platform for the X Games. With teeth clinched I pushed the cart of food, "Really? I thought these dreaded grocery days were behind us!"
But, things have change, dramatically. I've always known I would return to work after my brief "vacation" of the early-parenting-years. In fact, I think I'm a better person when I am working. The long days of naps and diapers and waiting anxiously for daddy's return didn't exactly feed my soul. I need an outlet, so I poured myself into my writing. I also poured myself into my friends and into relationships. I instigated and planned women's retreats for our church. I was always inviting groups over to our house: bbq's and wine parties. I found myself on countless committees. It was actually a bit out of control, but I was getting a lot of friend time through all of this.
Then I said yes to going back to work, part-time: teaching preschool, located at my older sons' school. My youngest went to work with me. No need for childcare. The new creative outlet came a bit more abruptly than I had planned as I found myself finishing out the school year for the previous teacher, so I didn't have much time to process what this change would mean. I knew I needed to achieve a balance, and so I let go of all my former commitments, but what really happened was a disappearance of my former-friend-life. Yes, I was busy and meeting new people and families. (And I have to say I love all these new relationships my job has brought me into.) But I didn't fully notice the old friendships fading until after it happened.
It was at my book group a few weeks ago, that my mind wrapped itself fully around this revelation. This is the one commitment from my former life that I refuse to give up: book group. I need it. This group is a lifeline to me. They are a group of women that spiritually and intellectually challenge me. They fashion me. They feed my need for thought, reflection, and friendship. Together we go to places all around the world: the Pacific Crest Trail, Nigeria, frontier Wyoming, a women's prison, Russia...and as we travel through reading we expand our views and thoughts and experiences. We are a support for each other in our current stories. One of the women in the group marveled that so many of us met when we were all having our first babies and now most of us are all working again, our kids are in school, our daily routines have changed. C asked me the other day, "What age do you want to chose to be when you are in heaven?" I told him, "36. I love what I am right now." (Don't freak out, we don't get hung up on theology in this house. By letting C control this conversation I stumbled upon a wonderful revelation.)
C said, "I haven't lived long enough to know yet what age I would pick."
Me, "That is very true." Maybe when its all said and done I'll pick 70, or 65, or 99. I have a lot more transitions and life stages to go, but for now I am very happy with the one I'm in. I'm only a tad bit nostalgic for the days when making it to a friend's kitchen table to sip coffee and eat a muffin felt gloriously victorious: our kids screaming and fighting on the floor amongst the Sippy cups and plastic chew toys.
Perhaps there is no way to actually be cognizant of transitions when you are in them. That could be the whole point of the word reflection, but I strive to be a person of noticings, and so I wish I'd noticed a bit more while I was in the whirlwind of changing from the early-years to the elementary years, that's all. I do know I did it, and I do know it is over.
I think I'm almost done grieving some of the things I've lost from the former life, mainly relationships that have faded and evolved. What I seem to be left with are some really deep connections that I see lasting a lifetime (relationships that go beyond diapers and potty-training), and a career that is extremely fulfilling and life-giving to me. I also have three little men who are becoming more and more independent: which has always been my parenting goal. And I am getting more time again with the man I started this all with, my husband. One day there will be another huge transition and we will find ourselves back to where we started: just the two of us. I could get almost giddy about this, but I won't because right now I'm 36 and the mother of three active, crazy, loving, smart, interesting boys who leave me exhausted and fulfilled all at the same time. When I was 18, I was so unaware of the layers that life would bring. Now I'm getting a small glimpse of what living means, and I continue to love the gift of life. I am thankful.