Just when I thought I was done with all that

I quit working full-time just before Big Man started Kindergarten. I wanted to be involved at my kids’ school….working in classrooms, being part of PTA, going on field trips, dropping off and picking up….It was important to me. And so I was. I helped in all three classrooms, almost weekly. I was on the PTA. I ran three book fairs, assisted one, and worked the rest. I went on more field trips than I can count. We went to art festivals, performances, band concerts, Back to School nights, and Open Houses. I felt like we lived there, but it mattered that we were involved. I knew the kids my kids were with every day. I knew a lot of those kids’ parents. I  knew the teachers, the staff.

As my kids entered middle school, I began backing away. They needed some space to become independent. I needed to not be quite as involved. I did volunteer for some things, and we still went to all the awards, concerts, and presentations. But I wasn’t in classrooms every week. I went on one field trip. I helped with one book fair. Even with Little Man’s school being more of an extended elementary, I’ve still held back from being involved. I’ve been burnt out (although that doesn’t mean I regret for one second all we did when the kids were in elementary school). Plus, my kids don’t need me hovering, constantly in their space.

I’ve always been one who struggled to say no, though. So I’ve recently felt myself being sucked back in. It started innocently enough – hosting a team building dinner for cheer last Fall. But then you start talking to this coach, or that parent, and suddenly you’re a team mom, and on the board of the Athletics Boosters Club (true story). Yeah. That. At the high school no less. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to help, and be involved. I just thought I was done with all of that.

I’m not quite sure how my kids feel about it. I haven’t invaded their space much, yet. But I’m starting to know people, things that are going on at their school, coaches, teachers.  I’m hoping to not be on campus while they’re on campus, and trust me, I won’t be chaperoning any dances, or field trips.

I think it’s important for our kids to see us involved, taking an active role in their education, including extra-curriculars. I think it’s more important now than an  in elementary to know the all the key players, to remain aware. They might be pushing to become independent, which they of course need to do, but that doesn’t mean I get to check out. So I’ll be a team mom, and I’ll be an Athletics Booster board member. I’ll jump back in to being an actively involved parent. And they’ll like it, darn it.

And then there was one, X’s 2

For years I’ve heard the phrase, “You must be busy,” whenever I mention I have three children (sometimes followed by their ages, sometimes not).  I honestly admitted the other day, when presented with that same phrase once again, we are actually not nearly as busy as we used to be. Things have settled somewhat. The kids are getting older. Instead of doing everything, they have narrowed down to what they really want to spend their time on. Thus, I spend a lot less time shuttling to multiple practices, lessons, classes and sessions each week/weekend. 

Just two years ago, the oldest was playing competitive soccer in the Fall (which actually extends to most of the year by the time you factor in tryouts, early practice sessions and spring/summer tournaments) and baseball in the Spring. The middle was also playing competitive soccer, for which team I was the manager (think super-sized team mom), as well as dancing at least one day a week. She was also dancing in the Nutcracker with weekly Saturday rehearsals. The youngest was playing soccer in the Fall and baseball in the Spring. Having just been diagnosed on the spectrum, he was also in therapy  once a week in addition to psychiatric follow-up. I had a spreadsheet on the fridge just to keep track of what day it was, and who had to be where, when. Add to all that the regular stuff of just keeping a household of five (along with two dogs and two cats) running, volunteering locally and nationally with the March of Dimes, volunteering in three classrooms each week, and, well, let’s just say, I ended up in the doctor’s office having multiple tests trying to figure out why I felt sick to my stomach all the time and why my sleep was so disturbed. Duh.

We have entered a new phase. This Fall, we only have one (ONE!!!) child playing soccer, and that is recreational. We only have two practices a week to manage, instead of six, and one game each Saturday, instead of three on Saturday and two on Sunday. In addition, his practices are at a school less than a mile away from the house. I. AM. IN. HEAVEN. We haven’t had just one child in soccer since Ry started playing seven years ago. I nearly don’t know what to do with myself. The princess is dancing 4-5 days a week, but we have carpools to help with that, thankfully.

While I miss our competitive soccer family, I am relieved. We used to take the wagon, cooler, umbrella, chairs, and blankets and pretty much camp out at the soccer fields every Saturday. I am really looking forward to just showing up for one game, with maybe my coffee and one blanket. No need to pack tons of snacks and video games to keep them entertained while they aren’t playing, nor for my phone charger to get my phone through the long day. I likely won’t  know what to do with myself.

We are rather well-known (infamous? notorious?) amongst the staff at our elementary school. I’m in and out of the office constantly, going on field trips, helping out in classrooms, checking in with the social worker, grabbing one kid or another from the nurse’s office. This will be our 8th year in the school. But this year is a little different. I have just one child left in elementary. Shortly, we will head to the school when the class lists go up. It will be completely odd to only seek one child’s name, only find one classroom. I’m trying to wrap my brain around walking just one of my babies to that school on Monday. I am so used to herding three, and our neighbors joining us with their kids too. It will be a small group of maybe three kids total taking that walk Monday morning. Again, I won’t know what to do with myself not having to divide and conquer in order to see each child into his/her classroom. Just one…just one baby, one classroom, one teacher. We will not have all three kids in the same school again until the oldest is a Senior in high school. Wow.

Our family dynamic is changing quickly. So, yes, I still have three children, and yes, it can be busy. But I’m  not nearly as busy as I used to be with my three. And I’m hoping that means I don’t have to see the inside of my doctor’s office with stress-induced symptoms anytime soon.