Our Second Act

Up until the night before my kids left I was excited.
I was excited for them, and excited to have the week with jeff and time with friends. 
I really did not think about them driving for so long or being so far away from me for so long.  Or the possibilities of what could happen or how much I would miss them.
I basically didnt think of anything.
Until the night before they left. And I went crazy (spoken in a high pitch soft whisper).
My poor in laws and husband.  I was just crying and crying and trying not to cry in front of anyone so I would hide and listen to my kids falling asleep and cry harder.  (Can you even imagine me as an a mom to one of the olympians??! I would be insane! Ugh.)  I usually am very emotionally prepared for stuff that I know is ahead.  I love emotional prep.  Love it.  I cried for hours like a year before Julie actually moved.  I cried for months before I had twins just to prepare for when I had them. I work myself into total messes wayyy too far in advance and then when whatever I am dreading or fearing actually happens, I feel ok.  I had prepared.
This time it just blindsided me all at once.
Sweet Jeff told me we could drive them to Colorado and just stay there and, I almost did it. 
But the next morning, after so much prayer, I had peace.
And actually didn't even cry when they left.
My amazing in laws sent constant texts and pictures the whole week and it was really so much easier than I had thought.  I would get sad sometimes in the mornings, realizing I had a few days to go til I got to see them, but mostly the days were great.
I knew they would have a blast, but I worried that they would get tired or homesick or throw huge fits and wear everyone else out.  I worried that they would get sick or that the other kids wouldn't click with them.  I guess that, beyond their safety, was my biggest fear.
That they would want to play with kids who wouldn't want to play with them.  Or they would want to do something and no one would hear them (highly unlikely considering their over attentive grandparents hear their silent cries) or they would be afraid to speak up.  That they might not feel accepted.  Which I know they are in for in their lives on countless occasions.  And in theory, I want that.  I want them to know what it feels to be on the outside and not fit in because I feel like thats where I found my strength and confidence.  Where I truly learned to lean on Christ.  I learned true empathy- to look for the kids who looked a little out of place because I know exactly what that feels like.  And those are where the real people are.  
But wanting it in theory and thinking it might actually happen to my kids is a different story.
(I want them watch it on an after school special staring dora, saying "can you say friend/amigo" over and over, nodding her huge head and staring at them with her wide ego-centric eyes until they say it back.)
And the other kids are amazing and kind kids.  I knew it wouldn't be because of the kids or the incredible grandparents, but just because they aren't really used to everyone and can get scared and quiet and easily upset.  and I just didnt know what to expect.
Then, on the plane to go get them, jeff asked if I was excited and I bawled like a baby saying, "I don't think I have ever been more excited about anything in my life!" (dramatic?)  Once we got there, my in laws texted saying only Ben was coming to the airport because the girls didn't want to leave everyone else because they were having so.much.fun- and things changed.
It was the craziest, most freeing feeling in the world. 
My kids were doing it.
And, granted, it was the most sheltered, safe, kind environment for them to be in and my fears were unfounded and they were with hugely biased people who of course said they did great, but, REGARDLESS,  they did it.   I have never been so proud.
They are growing up right before my eyes.  And the things I am praying for them are happening.  
Thank you, Lord.
Now I feel like we are all in our Second Act.  You know, our own (very off) broadway play. 
The glimmer of baby stage that I want to pretend hasn't melted away, is actually already gone.  
I really won't pull any more all nighters until I'm helping make dioramas.  I won't change many more diapers.  I am really not at all the source of entertainment anymore.  They create their own fun and I mostly just shuttle them around to it.
I think I will forever mourn the loss of the light pounding of crawling chubby baby legs. And so many hours spent awake when the rest of the world was asleep. Doing mundane but highly important jobs like rinsing/ prepping bottles and relaxing more and more as heavy eyelids became heavier and heavier. 
 I honestly thought there was nothing better than that.  That there was no way that it could get any better.  Easier maybe, but not better.  Its like I closed my eyes for a minute and its here- and its almost like a completely different life.
It is so heartbreaking and so exciting all at the same time.
I feel like we can do anything.
My sentimental side wants to tell my bitter, tired, and fragile baby mama self that it really doesn't last very long.  That even though I could see the days lasting forever but the years flying by before my eyes, that one day I would look into their faces and see kids- without even the tiniest hint of babies.  That once its gone, I can't ever get it back.  To soak up every single moment.  
I knew all of those things and I tried to grasp every moment before it seamlessly slipped from my fingers.  But, I don't think anything prepared me for the moment I realized it was already gone.
The new me wants to tell the tired mom of 2 year old twins and a brand new four year old that a new dawn is coming right around the corner, and your life is about to change.  That there is no need to stress about giving up the paci or worry that they will never sleep- they will.  That one day you will think back and realize the lisp is completely gone. That you will take trips where nothing is worked around naps.  That you will not even contemplate bringing a stroller anywhere except to run.  That you will barely ever carry your kids anymore because they are just so tall.
I would remind myself to hang on tight, because it happens right before your eyes.
Driving home from Colorado and looking back at those big, booster seated kids, watching a movie that wasn't animated, I feel like I finally saw what our lives had been slowly morphing in to.  I just had this overwhelming feeling that the world was our oyster and we could do anything we wanted to.  I don't know exactly what that will look like, but I just want to remember what it felt like the moment I saw the change.  And was open to it. I cant wait to go and see and explore and watch. And, hopefully with a little more awareness of what I am moving on from, I'll learn how to soak it all in.


jennifer said...

for real!? that was perfect. just cried my eyes out. your feelings were written so beautifully and so real. there are so many reasons why i love you but that realness and transparency, that is my favorite. love you.

brandonandlindslitzner said...

what a sweet, and heartfelt post. i love reading this blog!


Lifethrualinds said...

That was amazing. I just love a long, emotional post. You are so good at saying what everyone else is feeling and just can't put into words. I am still trying to relish the baby stage with my kids as long as I can but see it slipping away quicker everyday. Love you and your kids so much and i am so glad I can watch you navigate from baby-land to kids-ville before I have to.

Laura said...

This seriously made me cry! I have a two year old and a two week old and youre so right- the days are long but the years fly by. I fel like it was just yesterday my first was only two weeks old. I love this stage but I can't wait for thr stage you're in!

Camila said...

Gah! Don't make me cry at work!! This makes me prematurely nostalgic. And if that were an Olympic event, I would win a gold medal.

honeypumpkin said...

ugh! i've been going through that right now with my 4yo - all of a sudden I can't see the baby anymore, except when he's sleeping. I have another on the way, so I'll get to experience it again, but it's so bittersweet! Thank you for this wonderful post.

Unknown said...

Ahhh...I'm crying. Great post! Have fun making memories and soaking up the moments with your big kids:)

Cassie, Alex, Dresden and Auden said...

Well, I am crying my eyes out now! That was so beautifully written, and perfectly summed up the seemingly universal feelings of being a mom. It really is so fleeting isn't it? It's such a weird tension to mourn the loss of one stage while celebrating the new one at the same time. I think it will be like that for the rest of our lives, won't it? You are such a great mom, your kids are so lucky to have you; and you are an awesome writer, too!!! Thanks for sharing that with us!

Carrie said...

So I'm sitting in Starbucks right now BAWLING. Like big time audible crying. And laughing. So I look completely insane. But thank you for this post! So well put! Love you Kristen!

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness, you always know just what to say! Sooooo sweet. And since i am a few years behind, it hits home with me every time! Love!!

Nan Burger said...

Wow, Kristen! That's a lot of insight for someone your age! It's so refreshing to read what you wrote and be able to tell you, you hit the nail on the head. It's just like the song in Mama Mia, "Slipping Through My Fingers". We can't stop it from happening, can't even slow it down, but we CAN be aware. And only when we are aware, can we truly appreciate every little moment of our children's lives. Even the hard stuff. It doesn't last forever. And the way you're feeling right now . . . I guarantee you will always feel that way about your kids. Even when they're all grown up with children of their own.
You'll love them then, the exact same way you love them today, but in the background. And THAT can be hard, even if that's the way it's supposed to be.

Great post!!!

ilovethemidwest said...

Great, just great! As a new mom this makes me want to really be in the moment of his babyhood even through the tough parts. I know we'll be in our Second Act before I know it!

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