My kids have been on break for the last week and a half. Traditionally it is Spring Break when all hell breaks loose and the boys seem to get on every last nerve of one another. This year Christmas seems to be the winner.
It is probably indicative of the year we started in September. My oldest started middle school and my youngest started preschool while the middle son continued on at our elementary school. Some transition, to put it mildly.
It took me a while to figure it all out. Not to figure the transition out and how to navigate through it, but to figure out that we were in fact in transition. Embarking on a new season in the life of our family. I would have expected my oldest to have been hit the hardest by all of this. Transitions are not his strong suit. But he has handled it better than I thought he would. It is me who seems to be struggling.
A week into our new drop-off and pick-up schedule I realized I was sad. I missed my old, simpler life with only one school. I was always there waiting outside the classroom when the boys got out. I helped with the morning mileage club on the field. After school we would always head to the playground to play and I would chat with my friends.
Now my whole morning has been bumped up by half an hour so I can still get everyone where they need to go on time. By eight o’clock I have gone to the gym, prepared lunches, gotten everyone out the door (even if the youngest is still in his pajamas), and traveled across the freeway and back in order to drop kids off at two different schools. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I head back out at nine to drop off at one more school. Which all feels terribly productive but leaves no tangible evidence of said productivity.
In September I didn’t just have one back to school night, I had three. Plus a couple of other bonus events at the middle school. That fitting in between karate and homework and making dinners. It may not sound like a lot, but it sure felt like it. Eventually we settled in and I thought we were used to the new normal. Then this break hit.
Christmas Day was wonderful, as it always is when new Lego sets are plentiful. But before and after we have all had a difficult time getting along. Such a simple thing – getting along – and yet so mysteriously difficult at times when we are all so together. The children’s constant bickering results in my lost patience, which just makes it all worse. There are exponentially more dishes when three people are eating lunch at home instead of at school or work. We are all just together, which I want to love but right now seems to be sucking the life out of me.
And today it dawned on me that this is where we are right now. We are in the middle of a transitional year and this is part of family life. For better or worse, we are together. And we are working all of that transition out with each other. And it doesn’t look pretty.
I am hoping this helps. This confession to the world that my family is not very pretty at the current moment. I am hoping this helps me to let go and mourn that my children are growing up and we will not always be so together. And I hope that if I can move through my feelings about that a little more that I can gain some patience and grace for myself and for the other four members of my family. Reality is this – not every stage in the life of a family is a Norman Rockwell painting. But we are in it. Together.