My kids have left for school and I am home in a quiet house cleaning out my desk. It’s cluttered with school papers of ABC worksheets, and Halloween drawings depicting scarecrows or dancing skeletons underneath a disco ball. (Shep likes a good party.) Char’s big, lopsided, circle faces of our family stare back at me from the page, and my heart tightens. I feel that same feeling every time I watch her skip confidently into school from the car pool line. I am desperate to get them out the door, already aggravated from arguing over messy hair and brushed teeth. But I miss them as soon as they leave my sight.
We are in a good routine now, but this summer parenting left me at a new low I didn’t know I could reach. Personalities were hard, and schedules were loose. I found myself at the end of my rope and grasping at straws trying to understand why one of my children was so angry, seemingly every day. It was a terrible feeling. Dealing with crisis with your babies is traumatic, but dealing with big feelings and angry words on a daily basis drained me in a new way. I was failing…something wasn’t working and I couldn’t find the ways to fix it. It was a whole new type of defeat. Finally, I found help in the form of a sorority sister who happens to be a family counselor. She propped me back up, gave me some new tools and honest feedback. She reminded me that I am my kids’ mom for a reason and I knew what I was doing even when it never felt like it. The things I learned from this summer I’ll try to change over the next one, best I can.
It’s crazy watching your babies grow up. Shep’s reading abilities are slowly gaining momentum and I’m breathing a giant sigh of relief after parent teacher conferences. The kids are alright. My Shepherd boy is alright. We intentionally withheld all information about Shep’s drowning from his teacher and his new school. We wanted a clean read on Shepherd, without any pre-conceived opinions. After 3 years of wondering, I always knew Kindergarten would be my biggest litmus test and I feel like we passed.
I see patterns forming in his behavior, the randomness of ages 3-5 giving way to distinct personality traits. His passions are defined: Science, Legos, family, nature. Encouragement is his gift to others. He gives his heart away without reservation and is learning he won’t always get it back the way he thought. He’s an observer, quick to pick up on words not meant for his ears. Brutally honest, Shep will rat himself out any day of the week but he still manages to be a master manipulator of a situation once he’s pinpointed a weak spot. Our boy loves people but still does what he wants on the playground regardless of who does or doesn’t join his game. His imagination is still his biggest asset.
Nearing 7, his dance with faith is beginning to take on a rhythm of its own and the steps are becoming more complicated. Nothing slips by him. In a moment of intense frustration he furiously tells me he believes in God, but he doesn’t think He’s listening. His prayers have gone unanswered. All I can do is nod my head. “I get it buddy, I’ve felt the same way. But I know enough to know he’s listing now, so I’m going keep praying because this is a particularly difficult situation we’re in and I could use some help.”
I realized yesterday, praying will soon become my number one parenting recourse when things are going sideways. Erron and I will still encourage, set boundaries and enforce consequences, but once you send your kids off to school and they start finding their own friends, you rapidly start loosing some of the control you didn’t even know you had. It’s terrifying but also exciting to see them work out who they are….I day dream about flying Shep around the country and taking him to different science museums. I’m so curious to see how school will play out for him. He remains complicated, deeply loving, thoughtful and intense. Parenting him will never be boring.
This summer I walked though the wilderness as a Shep’s momma but I also know he’s too old now to share the details of our journey. All that matters is that we came out the other side and our path is much smoother now. This won’t be the last time we’ll get lost in the weeds but that’s ok. Like I said before, parenting is our favorite adventure, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.