Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Too Big Too Fast

My new commuting schedule is really hectic. Every morning, I drop Jacob off for school before work. Every other day though, I drive to another city to drop Ryan off with my mom, then I drive Jacob back to our city for school, then I FINALLY head to city no. 3 for work. I do the exact reverse in the evening.

The driving itself isn't all that bad, but coupled with all the kid shuffling, kid organizing, and car seat exchanges, I feel like I complete a full day of activities before I even get to work. When I drop Ryan off in the morning, I meet my mom at McDonald's where I order (and not-so-patiently supervise) the kids' breakfast. Trying to separate from Ryan and get Jacob back into the car (there is a Playland...) can take many hair-pulling minutes.

Then I drop Jacob off at school (we are out of district so we don't get bus service), where he somehow cajoles me into waiting with him in the library before the school bell rings. We spend about 15 minutes coloring and visiting. This ritual makes me late for work (which requires me to stay 15 minutes late everyday), but it means a lot to Jacob and I get some good quality time in with him. Occasionally, other kids from Jacob's class will see us as they pass by in the hall and join us. Before you know it, I'm orchestrating an amateur drawing time for Kindergartners.

Every morning this week, we've designed Halloween pumpkins. Not pictured: vampire pumpkin, Ninja Turtle pumpkin, and crazy-eyed pumpkin.

Pirate pumpkin

Frankenstein pumpkin

When I finally peel away from Jacob and bid him adieu in his classroom, I indulgently stop by the drive thru Starbucks before pulling into the office parking lot. All of these activities, coupled with the usual tasks of packing lunches, getting kids (and myself) awake and dressed, and piling everything into the car makes for INCREDIBLY long mornings. Hopefully we will get into a smoother routine as the school year progresses....wait a second, I'm having a (third) BABY....ha ha ha ha, yeah right!

Anyway, I originally meant to write a post about my sweet and loveable Kindergartner and all the quality time we are now getting. So...

Frequently, in the course of getting him ready and dropped off for school, something will suddenly strike me and cause me to reel at how grown up he has become. The other day, we were walking to his school when he bounded up a grassy hill then turned around to tell me something. When he turned around, all I saw was a big kid. For a split second, he looked so grown up and foreign. "Who is this kid?" I thought. Seriously. This picture makes me feel like he's nearly 15, not just 6. His babyhood, which once used to consume every bit of me and our lives, is so far behind him that it's as mysterious as the creation of earth.

Big Kid Jacob: the image that brought many silent tears on Monday morning

A similar thing happened today when I went to his after-school program to pick him up. When I walked in the door, one of the staff members told me he was outside and directed me to a long line-up of kids waiting to be picked for dodge ball. There amidst the long line of real, legitimate Big Kids was Jacob, in baggy khakis, his navy blue uniform shirt, and a beanie. As my eyes scanned the line-up of kids, they almost refused to stop at him. They wanted to keep scanning the crowd for a disproportionately big-headed toddler with chubby cheeks and disheveled hair.

In those moments, I'm both insanely proud of who Jacob has become and, at the same time, gripped by sadness over the passing of time. You know what? Being a mom is so unfair. Our job is to raise our children. But our children being raised is also one of the most painful things that happens to us. It's rewarding and wonderful beyond measure. But it's insanely painful. Loving a baby and a child is harder than loving any other person out there. Because a baby and a child grow and change exponentially compared to adults. The person you love is never the same. It's almost as if you are saying "good morning" to a different person each day. While you get to know and love the new person, you have no choice but to say goodbye to the person you knew yesterday. Except.... that person leaves before you even get a chance to say goodbye.

As we walk to the car each day after school, I love to hear Jacob's stories about his day. I love to find out what parts of his day really stood out to him. For example, when Marilyn pooped all over the classroom toilet seat. Or when Vincent had to go to the nurse's office because someone elbowed him in the eye at recess. Or when Jailyn blew him kisses and drew him a heart picture. Or when they had rice krispy treats for their afternoon snack. Even when they have a big school event, like Johnny Appleseed Day and I try to ask him about the activities they did, it's these little observations and social interactions that stand out and are most important to him. Forget the fact that they made applesauce and learned how apples grow, Jacob wanted to tell me that Madison got in trouble for wearing a Batman t-shirt (it's a public school but they have uniforms).

Jacob's choice for Crazy Hat Day at school (Ryan got to celebrate too).

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