As the new school year approaches I will be entering the stage of life where both my children will be in school.
I know tons of stay-at-home-moms might look at me enviously. They see me being able to go to the gym, to the grocery store, or just being able to sit on the couch and do nothing–and feel envious of the posh situation I might have for myself right now.
But the grass is not always greener.
Yes, I can do all those things, and I won’t lie and say it isn’t somewhat nice to have some “me-time,” but it is also a reminder of what I don’t have anymore.
I don’t have a baby or nap schedules to adhere to each day. I’m not chasing toddlers or baby-proofing my house.
And that is a stark reminder that I have passed that stage of life.
And not by choice.
And that is the hardest part for me.
If it were “up to me” I would have at least two more little ones keeping me busy during the school day.
I’d be carting a toddler and a baby around with me to Target while the two older girls were in school. I’d be figuring out nap time schedules and making it work with preschool pick up. I’d be relishing in the two minutes of free time I might find myself getting.
A lot of people get to choose when that stage of life is over–when they’re done having children, how many they’d like to have and how far apart they want them to be.
But a lot of other people don’t get to make those choices–that’s the boat I’m in–and I feel for every one of you who doesn’t get to make that decision.
I also imagine that being able to choose when you’re done, and accepting you’ve passed your baby rearing years, can be emotional and heart wrenching, too. It’s a huge step in life to decide you’re done having babies.
But it’s not having the choice that causes my heartache.
I was talking to a friend who is in a similar situation as I am. She has two kids, and has experienced infertility. Her kids are both in school full-time so we understand each other’s longing to still have babies at home.
She told me she was talking to a friend who has five kids.
That friend was telling her “how exhausting having five kids is and how much freedom my friend has and how nice it must be.”
Her response was that yes, she does have freedom now and in some ways it might be easier–but having that freedom was not necessarily by choice.
She would love to still have more children.
And even if she does gets to volunteer at school more, shop alone or isn’t being driven crazy by five little ones—it’s not because she planned it that way. She’s just making the best of what situation she has been given–and embracing it.
That really resonated with me.
We wish with all our hearts to still be having children- but we have no control over that.
I am not choosing to be at the stage of life where I’m going to be home by myself while my kids are at school. But those are the cards I’ve been dealt and I want to make the best of it. I want my girls to know that they are enough and to feel that our family is perfect the way it is.
Even though my heart is aching to have another child I am trying to focus on making the most of each day.
And yes, I put on a good front, and enjoy my time to myself, but if it were my choice, I’d still be chasing babies and toddlers around. And who knows, maybe I would be looking at someone else wishing I could have a little more alone time, too.
My point is that yes, I’m sad that my kids are both in school.
Yes, my heart will always be aching to have another child–another baby to rock and a toddler to chase after.
But I’m going to try to make the best of it.
That means I might be enjoying my Target run sans kids or being able to meet friends for lunch more often.
And even though you might tell me how good I have it, how great it might feel to have free time during the day, just know it’s hard for me, too.
My heart aches when I see other moms out with their little ones in the shopping cart, trying to maneuver a stroller or bulky car seat around. Believe it or not, I miss those days. I’m blessed that I got to experience those moments, but I miss them all the same.
But with longing and wishing and feeling sad, I’ve learned that there’s a lot to love about having older children now, too.
It’s a balance to love life now while missing what once was. I am choosing to love having older kids now, too. I am grateful for these blessings
The grass isn’t always greener, no matter where you are standing. And knowing that can help all of us moms feel connected just a little bit more.