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When I picked my four up from school this afternoon, the first thing out of their mouths was to proudly tell me they’d voted today. Sure enough, they were all sporting “I voted” stickers, and knew who the main candidates for the presidential election are.

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Classes received an age appropriate, crash-course in the candidates and where they stand on some major issues, and then they were brought to a couple of voting booths, that my boys say looked exactly like the ones Nick and I vote in at each election (we almost always bring them with us). At the end of the day, they announced who had “won” and with what percent of the vote.

Chase: “Do you know who won? With 80% of the vote? Hilary Clinton.”

Lily (giggling): “I voted for Donald Trump, because he has the same first name as Donald Duck!” (An excellent exhibit for why we don’t allow 5 year olds to vote for real….)

Jackson: “I was surprised so many people voted for Hilary and hardly anyone voted for Trump.

Me: “I’m not entirely surprised…”

Boys: “Why?”

And so ensued some very interesting and serious discussions. Yes, we discussed politics – who believes what, why things are important, the importance of looking for understanding on both sides, importance of voting, etc.

Politics aside though, we had some very big, important discussions about being humans.

My answer to the “why?” question?

Well, a lot of people feel like Donald Trump acts like a bit of bully. He’s said some pretty mean things about people and even directly to people. When he speaks, he sometimes has a terrible tone to his voice. He’s encouraged people to hurt others sometimes. He’s just kinda mean. People don’t like bullies, and it makes it hard to want to vote for him, and a lot of parents probably talk about that in front of their kids or they have their tv on the news a lot at home, so kids at the school may have gone with what they’ve heard their parents say.

When you guys were given your info on the candidates, you were only reading facts, and didn’t have things Dad and I have said to help guide you. You were making a quick decision, based only on that.

Now imagine if Dad and I got to vote without ever hearing the candidates talk. If we only went off a sheet of paper too we might be more inclined to vote one way or another, but we hear the candidates talk all the time, and we know about past things that been said or done, and it all comes together to form our opinion of them. This shows you just how important how we talk and treat others is! It’s so hard to look past unkind words or bully-like behavior and hear what a person is saying. When someone is being rude, disrespectful or unkind all you can think about is how terribly they’re making you or someone else feel, and you can’t think about what they’re actually saying. They could be saying puppies are their favorite animal in the world and all the reasons why, but if they look and sound angry while saying it, you’re going to be focused on the anger and how it makes you feel.

You can also see how what we say affects other people. You guys are constantly listening to what Dad and I are talking about, other kids are listening to what their parents are talking about, and you know what else? Kids listen to what other kids are saying. It’s so important to watch our words!

Honestly, we don’t talk politics a lot in this house. We believe in kids being kids and not worrying about too much adult stuff. If one of our children asks a question, we’ll absolutely answer it, but the discussion never lasts very long. I was pleasantly surprised with the turn this one took! They had valid reasons for voting the way they did (2 of the 3 boys revealed to me their choice, while the 3rd is still holding out), but could also see the good points on the other side (such good Methodists {wink}). They fully grasped the “what we say and how we say it” talk and we had wonderful conversations about how that applies to them at school right now. We had a great little discussion about what a “filter” is and why that’s important too.

My dear children, I hope you internalized just three things from today: your vote matters, research matters, and what you say and the way you say it so very, deeply matters.

It’s only 9:36am and I’m already nearly cried out.

Today is the first day of school.

Lily, my baby, started Kindergarten.

Here come more tears! Guess I wasn’t cried out after all.

Three years ago, when the boys started Kindergarten I cried. I cried then because life was about to hit a dramatic shift. I’d never known what it was like to have only one child at home. I couldn’t fathom that my preemie baby boys were finally old enough for elementary school. My emotions were running high. By the time Nick, Lily and I had walked back to the house though, I was fine.

Today? Today is something else.

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I’ve known since December that I was going to cry on this day. In December Nick and I talked about how we couldn’t believe Lily was going to be turning 5 the next month, and that she would then be old enough for Kindergarten the next school year. We both now had first hand experience with just how fast time does indeed fly once your children are school age, and it terrified me to think that all 4 of my children would now hit that milestone and time would begin to fly at warp speed.

I started out ok today, but then shortly after getting up I read this Back to School prayer that our church’s Children’s Ministry team posted. Uh oh – a few tears might have welled up.

I was fine as I took pictures of the 4 kids in the yard. I was fine as we walked to school (and I might have hurried them a bit, because pictures took longer than I thought, and we couldn’t be late on the first day!).

Kids First Day

When Ty held on for an extra long hug in front of the school, I felt the emotions kicking in. My baby boys are THIRD GRADERS!! They’re halfway through elementary school! They’ll receive their third grade Bibles at church this fall. They’ll probably have more homework than in the past. I just can’t. Thank goodness they let me buzz their heads one last time last night, because that at least helps them look a bit younger to me.

We walked Lily through the doors and down the hall to her Kindergarten classroom. We watched her wrestle her lunchbox out of her backpack and put it on a shelf. We watched her hang her backpack on a hook, and then we found her spot at a table.

Lily First Day

She was in Quiet Lily mode, but she often is in a new environment. I know that in no time she’ll be giggling, making friends, and having a wonderful time. I gave her one last hug after taking pictures, and immediately felt the tears coming.

“Have a great day, sweetie. I love you so much!” I tried to keep my voice from shaking, so that she wouldn’t catch on to my emotional outburst. I quickly stood up and turned away, while Nick hugged her goodbye too.

Out in the hall I held it together, but not well enough because my friend Monica immediately said “oh, honey!” and wrapped me in a hug.

The tears. Oh, the tears.

On the walk home those cliche sayings that moms hate to hear when in the check-out line at Target, or while a kid is melting down on the floor at church, or when you’ve vented on FB about how bonkers your kids are driving you, came flooding back.

Enjoy this – time flies so fast.

The days seem so long, but believe me, the years are short.

There is no room for regret and “I wish” statements in my heart and head right now. I just can’t let them in. Right now, I’m focused on the end of this era. My purpose for the last almost 9 years has been the every day care of these children. Now, M-F from 9-4 someone else has them. Honestly, it’s no wonder so many SAHMs have an identity crisis for a brief time when their baby heads off to full time school.

People ask me what I’m going to do with my time now, and the answer is invest most of it into my photography business, and volunteering at church and the school. I’m sure it’ll be filled in no time. In fact, I’m going to go throw myself into my work right now, in hopes that it eases the emotions and heartache.

If you run into me today, and see me all red-eyed and looking like a hot-mess, now you’ll know why. I’ll make it through these tears by the end of the day, and in no time at all I’ll be joining the “seriously, another early release day?!” club. For now, I grieve the end of an era.

  • August 11, 2016 - 12:40 pm

    Essie - My baby will be in third grade this year. You want to see them sprout wings and fly, but it aches every year they get older. ((((Hugs))))ReplyCancel

    • August 11, 2016 - 9:16 pm

      Helen - Yes! It is exactly that! We love it and we despise it all at once!ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 1:04 pm

    dad - Cried all the way through as well. These BIG moments never get easier. I well remember dropping my baby girl (YOU) off at Mesiah.ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 5:41 pm

    Sue Kesseli Wyand - Oh Helen….I cried through this whole post!! I love the pictures of your sweet kids (and yay! LLBean backpacks!!) I’ll be the one who’s the mess in three weeks when your cousin gets married!!ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 6:05 pm

    Angela Toburen Richmond - So….now you have made me cry too, a week before my only child starts kindergarten! Will be thinking and praying for you and a couple other kindergarten moms today. ❤️ Please remember me next Wednesday.ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 8:04 pm

    Janet Harrity-Dupuis - I cried as I read this and mine are 21 and 16! I remember those days! College…now that drop off was BRUTAL!!ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 10:41 pm

    Tammy Coleman Kupernik - I cried as I read this. My children are now 34 and 31, but oh, how I remember that first day like it was yesterday. And how I wish it was…ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2016 - 10:45 pm

    Tammy Coleman Kupernik - I cried as I read this. My children are now 34 and 31, but oh, how I remember that first day like it was yesterday. And how I wish it was…ReplyCancel

  • August 12, 2016 - 12:37 am

    Jennifer Ashen Esfandiary - Beautiful! They will be well-loved and cared for. The boys had me in tears today! I cried reading this, too! Lovely sentiments. What lucky children!ReplyCancel

  • August 12, 2016 - 11:58 am

    Mary Lynn Freeland - Even though all 4 children are in school now, don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t need you M-F 9-4 p.m There will be days when they’re home sick, when you’ll need to take them to an appointment during a school day, when you’ll need to take something to school for them that they forgot, etc. They won’t need you to care for them as you have in the past before they were in school full-time, but they’ll still need you to be home for them. Especially when they come home from a long day at school and you and Gus are there ready with the hugs, smiles, and the after-school snacks!ReplyCancel

I feel like the realization has smacked me in the face (and heart) over the last month or so more times than I can count. These boys of mine, they keep growing up. Ok, Lily is growing up too, but right now I seem to be focused on the leaps & bounds growing the boys are doing.

I think I can blame those “this day” memories Facebook keeps showing me. I seem to be caught in an endless flood of adorable toddlers, whom I can’t even understand now, with their adorable, round cheeks, and infectious laughs. I just can’t pull myself away from those pictures and videos FB keeps showing me!

And now I find myself constantly marveling at their bigness…

At baseball games… “When did these boys get so tall and skinny?!”

At children’s museums… “I can’t believe two out of three are tall enough to ride the sky bike now! Wait… that means they’re only 11 inches shorter than me now!”

While riding their bikes… “They look like clowns on tiny bikes! STOP GROWING!”

When they ask deep, intellectual questions… “Crap. These kids are going to be smarter than me in no time, but they’re also going to be world changers – I can tell!”

When I do birthday math… “Oh my gosh… they’re about to turn NINE, which means they’ll be halfway to “adult”!”

And finally today….

Growing Up

When they left for camp. I don’t mean day camp, I mean sleep over, have tons of free time, with other “adults” watching you but not as closely as your mom would watch you, kind of camp!

I’m not nervous about their camp experience this week. They have each other, plus Nick is there as a leader (but not their cabin leader). I know they’re going to have so much fun, and be instantly hooked on this new freedom and level of fun!

While I was watching them rush around early this morning, and shoveling cereal into their mouths at a choking-hazard pace, I got misty eyed. I can’t even blame my allergies or dust this time. This was legit lump in my throat, eyes watery kind of stuff. And thinking about it right now is making the tears spring up all over again! Dang it, Helen. Pull your Blubbering Mess of a self together!

Nah. Never mind… I’ll just embrace the emotions right now, because honestly so many “firsts” and “whoa” moments are about to come flying at me over the next month and a half, that I might as well just grab some tissues and chocolate and hold on for the ride.

First day of kindergarten for Lily? Yeah, I see you coming.

 

  • July 12, 2016 - 3:16 am

    Jennifer Ashen Esfandiary - And then, they leave for college. I’ve cried since May, almost daily.ReplyCancel

  • July 20, 2016 - 5:33 pm

    Paul Kahalewai - Good looking boys! I can’t imagine, 9 years old? Our boys are coming up on their first birthday & I already wonder where the time has gone!

    Best of luck at camp boys, enjoy!!!

    PaulReplyCancel