It was the eve of the first day of kindergarten and the topic of conversation had been about all the exciting things she could anticipate the next day.
"What do you mean daycare? You're going to kindergarten." I was truly perplexed by this question.
"But I want to go to daycare. Where your mommy and daddy go to work all day and you get to take naps at daycare and stay all day," she explained, with a serious look of anticipation waiting for any facial expression of mine that would reveal an answer.
After thinking for awhile about my answer I replied, "Sweetie, you're never going to go to daycare. You're so fortunate to have a mommy who can stay home and be with you every afternoon." I said it as sweetly as possible, thinking that surely she would see how lucky of a little girl she is to have such an awesome mom to hang with everyday.
"But, I want to go to the daycare..." trailing off in a full lip-quiver while real tears began to well up in her five year old eyes.
I gave her a look and changed the subject and the conversation ended there. Kindergarten was a success and no tears from anyone, even Mommy.
But that conversation played over and over in my head the past few days. And it evoked lots of emotion in me. I was a little ticked actually. How ungrateful, I thought! Doesn't she know how big of a deal it for me to be at home? You see, I just officially became a stay-at-home a few weeks ago after a very slow exit from the working mom world.
For the past 10 years I've worked for Barnes & Noble and although retail can have it's fair share of stressful moments (i.e. Black Friday, Christmastime, every time a new return policy was enforced..) I really enjoyed my time there. The people I worked with are awesome. They came to my wedding, threw me baby showers, and helped me with my schedule when I became sick. They really have become like family to me.
In the year after my daughter was born she did attend daycare while I worked as a manager full-time. I had such issues with the quality of care she was receiving that it caused a flare up. One day I walked in to pick her up and I felt her diaper was so soaking wet that it had soaked through her clothes. When I asked the daycare employee about it she said. "Oh, we're out of wipes." What?? The only thing the daycare provided besides some questionable care (a few of the women were wonderful, don't get me wrong) was baby wipes. And they ran out? Send someone to the store! Don't leave my daughter sitting on the floor with urine soaked clothes! I left the room and told the director we were done.
My flare up got worse and I ended up having to take some more time off work. When I returned to work part time (not as a manager anymore) my mom watched her for the time I worked which was such a blessing. It gave them some quality time and afforded us the savings in childcare so we could withstand the huge pay cut I had just received. After I had my son I went back to work even more part time. I worked one night a week anticipating that there would be a day when I could logistically work more hours again. This past spring I tried to work a little more and it was pretty much terrible for our family dynamic. I would only see my husband in passing as he got home from work and I would throw him the reigns as I headed out to the store. Some nights we even met at the store and I had to hand them off. It got crazy and it wasn't working anymore. So I told my manager I needed to take the summer off and that I would be back in the fall when the kids start school.
But as the start of school approached my husband and I both knew that we couldn't go back to being two ships passing in the night. The truth is, I have a full-time job. Yes, I'm a mediocre maid, a chauffeur who can't park (or backup) worth a lick, a chef with good intentions, a boxing referee, a short-tempered teacher, and a play date coordinator. And now I can officially say I am a stay-at-home MOM!
For so long I have been toeing that line and keeping one foot at my job and one foot at home and not fully being available to either. No matter which side I stood on the other side always looked like the better option. When I worked I longed to be at home and playing with my kids and watching their milestones. When I was at home I looked forward to the nights I worked so I could have adult conversations without having to keep one eye on my kids. The grass on the other side was always greener and maybe a bit better maintained, too. So we decided I needed to stay home for this season. And it was certainly the right decision. But right away I began day dreaming about my new steps, my next season. My imagination trailing to what 'could be'.
On Thursday, with both my children at school, I was blessed with some quiet time on the beach beginning a new book, The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer. In the first chapter I was hit like a ton of bricks when she discussed how she hadn't been fully engaged in her life and how she wanted to change for the upcoming year.
"Only for the coming year would my husband be exactly like this. Only for these fleeting moments would my children talk, look and act exactly like this. And if I chose to hurry through them in an attempt to avoid the parts I didn't like, I'd simultaneously miss all the things I did like about this season."
Wow. So powerful. That's what I was doing! After I finished the chapter I closed the book and looked up to see an elderly woman probably around 70. She was walking down the beach at the surf's edge with a cane, clutching her hip as if it was bothering her. Her right hip. The same hip that bothers me. Tears started to stream down my face. As I watched her slowly make her way down the beach God reminded me of how fleeting this life is. James 4:14 popped in my head:
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Tomorrow I may be that older woman clutching my hip, slowly making my way down the beach, and laughing at how much of a hurry I was in when I was 33. Wishing I had slowed down and enjoyed the season for all it held.
Given my life the past few years I shouldn't be the least bit surprised that my daughter is standing on one side of the fence and looking over at the other side thinking how green and well-groomed their grass may be.
For this season I am making a commitment to be fully present and engaged and have a grateful heart. Those are all traits I want for my children, but I have to truly model it first.