I don’t know quite how I’m supposed to feel today.
And to be honest, I’m not sure how I actually do feel. I took my little girl for her first day of kindergarten this morning, and ever since the moment of her walking away – enormous backpack strapped onto her tiny frame – I have felt an extreme conflict of emotion.
It’s a good thing, this “starting school” thing. It’s good for her to experience it, and I won’t rehash here the countless reasons we have for sending her to school outside the home. It’s good for me, for many of the same reasons, and I know that today’s pendulum of emotion marks the beginning of a fantastic journey for our family. It’s a good thing. It is.
But there’s that part of me that just wants her here with me. I want her where I can see her (even though over the past few months I have thought far too many times that “I just need some SPACE!”). I want her where I can hear her (even though there are too many times in recent past when I have longed for quiet). I want her to be where I know she is okay, and to my way of thinking in this uncertain world, that is with me. Only with me can I know she is okay. Only with me can I be sure she’s 100% taken care of. Only with me can I be reasonably sure she won’t get hurt.
And so today, here in this quiet, empty house, it feels like something big is missing. We made the decision when I was pregnant that I would stay at home with her, and that has turned out to be a good choice for our family. But now….now that I’m at home and she is not….I find myself a little bit lost. And I have to be honest with myself and wonder, “Is my sadness over her being gone, or over me still being here?”
Truthfully, it’s probably both. I miss her. I do, and my eyes well with tears as I even acknowledge this ache inside. These days will seem long, I’m afraid. I miss my little companion. She has been my sidekick for grocery shopping and missions for Daddy and Chic-Fil-A lunch dates. She has been here all these years for whatever our days have held. Yes, she has been to preschool and mother’s day out programs for several years now, but those were half-day programs and this….well, this is different. This is very different. I spent my time at coffee shops while she was in “school” during those years, because the time was so much shorter and her school was far enough from our house that returning home didn’t make sense. But now, the days are longer and the school is closer, so here I am. At home. All day. BY MYSELF.
Yes, part of this introvert is very, very excited. I need time like this to myself. I need time when I can recharge without having someone else’s needs to worry about. I need time to WRITE and WORK and BE MYSELF. This new season will certainly afford plenty of opportunities for that.
But part of me doesn’t know what to do. The other day, at her school open house, I had to fill out the requisite paperwork with contact information, etc, and I wasn’t sure what to put in the blank that asked “mother’s occupation.” For the past five years whenever I’ve been asked that, I’ve said I stay at home with my daughter. That has been my occupation, though I do write here and speak whenever I can. Now, though, I feel that something is changing. I’m still a stay-at-home mom……but I feel something else happening, too. I don’t just write and speak. I am a writer and a speaker. And I think this new season will begin to reveal some of what God has been leading me toward over the past several years.
I read this morning that when baby birds leave the nest, mother birds immediately begin preparing for their next group of babies. They immediately move on.
Now, my five year old has not left the nest entirely, nor are my husband and I planning to have another baby. She has stepped a bit further from the nest, though, and I am left behind. And so now, in this in-between, I need to move on. I need to find the next stage of my life.
I don’t know what it will look like or how it’s going to go. I don’t know what God has planned for me or for my family. I do know that as wonderful as things are behind me, there are even more wonderful things up ahead. I will keep my focus forward and upward, and will walk with an unsteady confidence into this new season.