One of my favorite things about summer is connecting with people that I haven’t seen in a while. I have gotten to talk to so many friends who are also mothers. I have noticed many things along my summer get together journey about myself and about other mothers.
I have noticed that there are many different phases of motherhood:
There is the beginning phase when you feel like you are learning everything. You are overwhelmed, and sleep deprived, and trying to figure out how to be a mom. My full time job was nursing my children at this phase of life. Maybe you have to go back to work, and that adds a whole added set of challenges. I have seen mothers who thrive going back to work, and I have seen mothers who struggle going back to work. It’s amazing how different we all are. I have definitely learned there is not a one size fits all to motherhood.
We enter into the world of preschool and elementary school, and we learn how to add our school community to our family. We make new friends, our kids make new friends, and we watch our kids learn and grow, and hopefully thrive. We also learn to add activities into our lives, and it can become very hectic. My friends often tell me that my kids do too many activities, but we all have to do what works for our own families. I will say, I just got the cheer schedule, and part of the football schedule, and I definitely find it overwhelming. I will put it all in my calendar. I will take it day by day. I will ask for help. I will watch my children have a great time doing cheerleading, dance, football and theater.
My children have graduated from both of those phases of motherhood. My youngest child is headed to middle school. I think that my friends thought that I was going to be sad to have my children leave their elementary school. I have definitely seen my friends be sad to have their children be done with elementary school. I have really surprised myself with the sense of relief that I feel. I am very excited to be done with elementary school. It was a long journey, and I am ready to move forward. I am definitely nervous to send my youngest child to middle school. I hope that she rocks it. I am so happy that we will be down to two schools for my three children. Three schools last year was a lot for me. If you are managing mutiple schools, I know how challenging this is. You are never alone in your motherhood challenges. Share your burdens with other mothers. They will understand.
Maybe you are beyond middle school and your kids are in high school. Maybe you are like my friend and your children span from middle school all the way through to college. As our children get older it gets physically easier, but gets mentally more challenging. As I think about my son getting his car permit in January, I feel so many emotions both good and bad. Motherhood comes with the whole array of emotions.
It is so exciting and rewarding to watch our children grow up, become more independent and gain more skills. I wasn’t home for most of the day and my 15 year old son fed himself and mowed the lawn while I was out. I feel a lot of pride, and I also feel sadness. He’s getting really old! It definitely goes too quickly.
My friends were discussing their daughters leaving for college. I tried to wrap my mind around it. It’s getting closer and closer. I used to be totally freaked out by it and now as it gets closer it gets less scary. I hear about how well their daughters are doing and how proud of them they are. They also miss them. They also feel sadness. No one told me that motherhood was going to give me every emotion imaginable. I didn’t know. I know that three parts of my heart are walking around this world every day.
If you just had a baby, I know how challenging that is. I know that you are trying to keep your head above water. I know that you are wondering when you showered last. I promise it gets easier.
If you are about to send your child to preschool, I know how challenging that is. I know that you don’t know how you are going to send your baby out into this world. I also know that if you are okay, they will be okay. They will probably be more than okay and will love it.
If you are about to send your child to kindergarten, I know how hard this is. My kids only went to a partial day preschool. This meant that they were really tired after kindergarten. I think the best thing we can do is make sure our kids are getting enough sleep. If your children are going to full-day day care or preschool then kindergarten is going to be a breeze. All three of my children absolutely loved their kindergarten teachers so that made it a lot easier for me.
If you are about to send your child to middle school, I know how challenging this is. I am about to do it for the third time. I can honestly say that this is the hardest time. I basically kicked my son to middle school because he found elementary school boring. I knew Max was there for Ella, so that made it a little easier to send Ella to middle school. I also know Ella’s homebase teacher and love her so that also made it easier. Now for my baby. Sending Lillie to middle school is definitely the hardest. I know she will probably surprise me like she always does. I know her big sister will be at the same school. Your kids will continue to surprise you. Don’t underestimate them. I tend to do this. I also know how fabulous the teachers are and that continues to help me.
If your child is about to start high school, this is very exciting. If you are nervous, I want to switch you to excitement. This is such an exciting time for your children. If you loved high school, then you can help them love it too. My son has gotten involved in sports and that has made a world of difference. Encourage them to get involved in something, whether they are in middle school or high school. This gives them a sense of belonging. If you didn’t love high school, don’t put your own stuff on your kids. They will hopefully have a completely different experience. Maybe they can even give you a different high school experience. When I pulled up to pick my son up at high school, I was overcome with this sense of peace. I knew he was at the right place, and I was so happy to be there with him.
If your child is about to go to college, I haven’t done this yet with my children. I can tell you that this is also a very exciting and scary time for parents. This is when school really gets good. This is when I could study what I was really interested in. I hope your child is excited. I hope your child finds an area that excites them to study. I hope that you can turn to your supports to help you through this. I hope that you can find something just for you to add to your life. My friends added a dog to their families. Maybe you could add a new hobby or bring back an old hobby or sport that you didn’t have time for. One of the things that has been most helpful to me is to have friends with older children. They go first and then they help teach me how to do it.
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings. Give yourself grace. Give your kids grace as they adjust. Each phase is new, exciting, scary and sad. I know what it is like to feel a lot of feelings at once. I know that you are trying to figure out whatever phase that you are in. You will learn to do whatever phase you are in well and so will your child. I am excited for you with whatever phase of parenthood you are entering into. This year my children are in 5th, 8th and 10th grade. We have come a long way and so have you.
I would love to hear what phase of parenthood you are in. What challenges are you experiencing and what have you learned that we can share with other parents? I would love to hear your comments! Cheers to the next phase. You can do this and so can your children. You raised them well.
Laughing, Loving, Learning,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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