The school year is basically over, but instead of shutting down, I’m trying to savor this annual hustle.
My son will only graduate from kindergarten once. The sweet moments go by so fast that I’m trying not to forget anything important. If it’s not written on a crumpled list floating around my stinky purse or on my calender, it doesn’t exist. My brain has limits. I’m not frantic, but I can’t ignore the energy. The sun comes out and we all lose our minds. The kids are antsy to say goodbye to the routine, so they can play while I lay around like a walrus. In a couple days when school is finally out, the trumpets will blare, the crumpled lists will be obsolete, and my head will finally explode confetti.
When the year starts, everything is neatly tucked away and lunch boxes are clean. My attitude is an ambitious young Julie Andrews. Showing up, helping out, and having a snack ready after school.
When the year ends, my ambition flies out the window and my attitude goes full Medusa. Anything in my way disintegrates. Every time I have to read, remember, and sign another important piece of paper, a little piece of my soul dies. Dinner time isn’t nutritious baked salmon anymore. It’s me texting my husband to bring home anything edible. By the end of the day my mental clarity is gone, so the text reads something like, will you please feed me the chicken?
It’s hard to explain, but school ending feels like we’re quitting a huge area of life and it’s moving day. At the end of April a lot of moms put their hand above their eyebrows to shade their eyes and stare deep into the Sahara Desert, like they might be crazy enough to cross it. That’s how approaching the end of the school year feels to me.
August started out celebrating my new life of having both kids in school, enjoying a part time job, and helping at my husband’s business. It looked like that for about five minutes. After a few months, nothing worked out the way I’d planned.
When all your kids leave home to go to school, it feels like getting fired from being a stay at home mom. I just couldn’t believe how much it felt like I was starting over as an adult. Even if it’s a new chapter in your own book, it’s still difficult to cope with change. It’s hard to be determined about where you’re going in life when you don’t have directions.
For the first time as a mother, it was quiet. For long periods of time. The quiet was uncomfortable, even lonely at first. If I was home, I kept productive. Projects became opportunities that I never had a chance to think about with children running around. Opening my Bible and having time to read again (uninterrupted) became my morning balance. Praying daily brought direction. The gym became less intimidating, more frequent, and even… fun. Trying new things took me out of my comfort zone until it became my new comfort zone.
It’s been a while since I’ve stared at bravery in the face and gotten any kind of euphoria from it. Usually I run for the hills. My health issues got under control, which proved to be hugely beneficial for me. The older I get, the more the struggle is real. I channeled any “lost” feelings by helping out in the classrooms or the PTA. I also learned a few tricks about the school, like not being afraid to use the teachers lounge bathroom. Here’s a little secret: it’s a spa in there. Compared to the pint sized children’s toilets, I’ll take the Oasis, thanks. (Oh, and on Cinco de Mayo it was me that ate all the guacamole.)
Here’s the thing: By the end of the school year, the quiet in my house became comfortable. My home is decorated with my eclectic personality. My health is ready for s’mores season. Volunteering helped me meet some incredible people. It’s nice to have a cheer squad for your kid and make memories with that squad. School is over, but here we are. The empty nest feelings were substituted by being adaptable and trying new things. Nothing will replace my kids, but nobody can replace you either.
When I had babies, having grace on myself and remembering I had purpose was the theme. Having grown kids, it was nice to discover my passions again. It’s powerful, personal, and mine. Passion gives me freedom to unapologetically be myself and to love others with no boundaries or expectations. It makes me a better person. Making peace with this stage of life brought great relief. Not because it’s over, but because it turned out quite beautiful.
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.