Today was the big day: the Jog-A-Thon! Ian did a great job and met his goal exactly by finishing with 14 laps in the 20 minutes. (The track is 200 meters – I’ll let others who enjoy math more than I do figure that one out.)
I volunteered to work the event and was on the morning shift, which worked out quite well since Ian’s class ran just after 9am. There’s definitely a pattern with these little athletes: They come out the gate really strong. As in, really WAY too strong. Then, by the end of the first lap or halfway into the second, they are on their first walking break. So the volunteer/parent mantra of the day is yelling out to the kids, “Pace yourself! Slow down!” Or when they were at the start line at our area – the little pep talk: “Now remember, don’t go too fast or you’ll get tired quickly…you have 20 minutes to run…slow and steady wins the race…” Yeah, well, we might as well be talking to a group of over-eager elementary school kids because… Oh, wait – maybe that was the problem?
Ian finished kindergarten today. While I was well aware that the start of kindergarten was an emotional thing for many parents, no one ever mentioned that the end could be, well, also “strange.”
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it’s something about experiencing for the first time how quickly the school year passes. One day you are buying supplies for their new classroom and a fast 9.5 months later, they are celebrating the beginning of their summer vacation and looking forward to the next grade. And so it goes. Suddenly, something you thought was so far away you couldn’t even begin to imagine it, is imaginable: graduating from high school and leaving the nest. Or not, as the case may be.
I know, I know. Perhaps I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself…he did just finish kindergarten, after all, so clearly we’ve got a while to go yet. Still – I suspect that other parents who have been through this know what I’m talking about. Ultimately, I’m taking it as a friendly reminder to appreciate this time we have watching our kids grow up because it will be over before we know it.
Ms. Davies gives Ian his kindy diploma, spins him around, taps him with her magic wand and deems him “now a first grader”!
Posing nicely for Mom with his diploma and kindergarten memory rock from Ms. Davies.
Kindergartener no more.
A few months ago my friend at work who is a former stay-at-home-mom (and in the process of becoming a single mom) asked me if I ever felt guilty about the time I spend at work away from my kids. It took me approximately .53 seconds to answer, “No.”
Having been through the stay-at-home mom (SAHM) routine longer than I originally intended made me 185% certain that I am not SAHM material. I refuse to feel guilty about saying that I don’t want to spend 24/7 with my children. I need another outlet. Some don’t. I do. It makes me a better mother. That, I know. To each their own.
It helps that I have a job that fulfills me, and that both of my children are in places that both Jeff and I feel at peace with in terms of knowing that it fulfills their needs. One day not too long ago I left work a little early and picked Ian up from after-school care. His greeting: “Mommy, why are you here early today? I didn’t get to finish playing…” And while Elena often greets us very enthusiastically, we don’t leave the building before she proactively hugs every teacher in sight who bid her farewell by name. She’s happy, and that makes us happy. However, had my friend asked me that same question earlier this evening, for the first time since I’ve been back to work, I may have hesitated with my answer.
As part of my effort to re-engage in normal life at the beginning of 2012, I decided to sign up to volunteer in Ian’s classroom. It’s just one half-morning a month, but makes me feel like I’m doing something to contribute to his education and attempting to get to know his teacher a little better. It also helps in the motherhood guilt department. Of course, it might have been nice if I had started that in September, but frankly with all we had going on, at that point I was lucky to make it to work every day. Plus, better late than never, right?
So, Friday was my first volunteer gig – actually for a special event. His class was having a parade through the school to recreate the dragon dance that is part of the lantern festival for Chinese New Year, followed by a little class party with “traditional” Chinese fare: tea, fried rice, a fortune cookie and a piece of mango candy. Some other parents and I helped set up for the party, serve the kids and clean up. Ian was really excited that I was there in his classroom, which alone made the whole thing worth it.
When I started back to work last January, I spent the first few months thinking I had everything amazingly under control. Really. Work…two kids…this was doable. What’s all that complaining I hear about how hard it is to manage and juggle everything? This was going to work out just fine!
Then one day – I think it was this fall when Ian started kindergarten – I had some random minor breakdown in the car or something when I realized….okay, maybe this is not as “fine” as I thought it was and in fact, it is, kind of hard.
Of course the next thing you always hear is how kids #2, #3, #4, etc. etc. get increasingly less attention than the first one did. Of course – not me! Both of my kids were going to always get equal attention. Well, if that were true then perhaps I would not currently feel like the most negligent. parent. EVER. I mean, I’ve so had three strikes with poor Elena that I’m surprised St. Andrews hasn’t called CPS on us yet. And, all within the month of November.