The Sweet Spot

In tennis the sweet spot is the location on your racket if in which the ball is struck will result in the ball rebounding with greater velocity than if struck on any other part of the racket. In other words, it basically is the perfect hit.

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At dinner every night we recently started asking the kids two questions. What was the best part about your day? and What was the worst part about your day? And let me tell you, my children love this. Seriously. One of my daughters has taken it upon herself to lead these questions every night, asking each person with unconstrained excitement. We all listen intently, laugh at the silly answers and talk about the sad ones. We reflect on how a timeout could have been prevented, why your sister made you feel sad, who was the Uno! champion, and how did you show kindness.

Last night as we were taking turns answering these questions, I looked around the table at my husband and each of my children. All three children were eating their food with no complaining, we were having real conversations as opposed to squabbles about how many bites to eat. No one spilled their milk. I didn’t have to cut the grapes in half. We were laughing at my toddler’s silly faces. I didn’t race to scarf down my food to tend to a crying or nursing baby.  It was just so…pleasant.

And in that moment I realized, I think we have [finally] entered the sweet spot.

In motherhood, the sweet spot is after the baby phase and before the teenage years. Right now my kids are almost 6, 4 and 2. Old enough to play nicely without mom refereeing every move. They all can use words to communicate, no more endless cries and super ninja tricks to decipher their needs. There are no other babies on the way so none of that pregnancy drama. We are no longer dictated by a nursing and multiple naps-a-day baby schedule. I can *sometimes* leave the house without my diaper bag and it not be a total disaster. My girls are actually helpful with small tasks and chores around the house. My former Velcro baby no longer cries while in Sunday school. My children sleep all. night. long. Need I say more?

We have not yet entered the “mom is not cool” phase, and my kids still prefer to hang out with me. I know this will not last forever. But of course, I will not complain if they “skip” this phase. Problems can be solved easily-which movie to watch, which dress should I wear, which snack should I eat? No mean girl or boyfriend-stealing drama. No curfew abusing or worry about friend choices and drivers licenses. Enough said!

We can spend hours playing at the park or a day at the zoo and my kids are so excited. I declare one night, it is a “two scoop” kind of ice cream night and my daughter shouts, “Best Day Ever!” Yup, I agree. These days. They are! My children right now are easy to please, they hang on my every word, and little simple joys are their biggest delight.

These are the days right now. The sweet spot days. The ones I am storing up for when I am old and wrinkly. The ones I will look back on with nostalgia.

I am in no way saying that I don’t have hard days in this season. Because, trust me, I do. Last week I had three sick kids, and let me tell you something-I was exhausted and totally over all of it. It’s just that now, the good days outnumber the bad days.

I am not foolish enough to believe these days will last forever. One day, I will have three teenagers at the same time. And I know from my mom friends with older kids, that will be no easy feat. I know motherhood will get harder again before I can blink, so until then, I am soaking up these sweet, sweet days.

We went to our first ever family movie a couple of weeks ago. All three children not only made it through the entire movie, they sat well, engaged in the experience of “going to the movies.” It was so glorious!

I used to imagine that one day, a day like that would come, when I wouldn’t be elbow deep in newborn blowouts or round the clock nursing. Back in the days when I looked forward to bedtime because that meant morning coffee would soon follow. When my husband and I used to divide and conquer kids, passing the baton in a relay race where we rarely had time or energy for an uninterrupted conversation.

And now, all of a sudden, here we are, the sweet spot, all together at the movies.

Little victories. Simple joys. These are the days. And they are so so sweet.

xo, Becca

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Confessions of a First-Time Kindergarten Mom

My mom has told the story of when she dropped me off at my first day of kindergarten for years. And how when she was crying in the parking lot a woman asked, “Why are you crying? You have more children at home.” I think the comment bothered my mom for years, and I admittedly never understood why on earth would my mom be crying about me going to school or why that woman’s comment upset my mom. Until now.

Twenty seven years later, I understand now, Mom! Funny how sometimes it takes us years to understand our wise mothers. Sending off your child to school is bittersweet no matter if it is your first, second, or last child because you love them, you want the best for them, you worry about them,  you will miss them. More children at home does not in any way dimish the significance of ushering another one into school. It is a milestone for that child. And now it all makes sense, Mom.

So now, here I am, a first-time kindergarten Mom, and I have ALL the feelings. Joy for my girl because she is SO ready. Peace because I know in my heart that she is going to rock school. Worry that she will be okay without me. Grief because I hate change. And let’s be honest, this is a BIG change. Sad because I will miss her and because this means I have to let go a little more. AGAIN.

We went school supply shopping today–finally. Something I had put off for weeks because I was in denial that this is where we are at. I know this is the next natural step for her. I could see the joy and anticipation in her face as she picked out her pencils, markers and 20 glue sticks. (seriously, why so many glue sticks?) But as the mom, it is never easy to let go.

With each milestone, I see that I have to let go a little more so they can grow and be strong without me. And this is HARD. But they need me, I rationalize. Well, yes that is true, but not always in the same way, you see. It is our job as mothers to guide them, teach them, encourage them, love them, but not hold them back from who they are meant to be. We have to loosen the grip so one day they will fly. 

I am excited for my girl, really! But at the same time, I am, selfishly, sad for me. The first day of kindergarten is as much about the Moms (and Dads) as it is about the children. Because for the kids, it is about the beginning of the “school days” chapter, until graduation, which I will completely ignore, for now.

And for the moms, it is the realization that daily life as we have always known it, will never be the same. And that is why I fight the tears from falling. It is a reminder that my children will always be growing. Even though some days feel like they last forever, each day ends and another begins and time carries on.

The days of all three of my littles at home with me everyday are done. It is the end of an era. A chapter in my life that was both filled with the greatest joys and also some of the darkest days. Are we really here, already? And I am just a little bit nostalgic about it all. We get one shot at being a mom and doing it “right.” So now I sit here and question everything these last five years.

Did I teach her enough?

Did I prepare her enough?

Did we laugh enough?

Did we read enough?

Did we snuggle enough?

Did I encourage her enough?

Did I do ENOUGH?

And then I hear the little voice in my head. Relax Momma. You DID enough. You taught her enough. You prepared her enough. You laughed enough. You read enough. You snuggled enough. You encouraged her enough. Now LET GO, Momma. She’s got this and so do you.

So on the first day of school, I’ll pack a carefully planned lunch, make an extra special breakfast, pick out the perfect photo-worthy outfit, take a thousand pictures with her chalkboard sign and walk her bravely into school. I’ll smile and tell her I am SO proud of her and that she is going to have so much fun and that I love her to heaven and back. Then I will kiss her goodbye and let go of her hand so she can grow up a little bit more.

And once I am sure she cannot see me anymore, I will almost certainly burst into tears.

xoxo, Becca