You know Christmas break is officially over when you walk into the kitchen to grab a goodie that has become stale on the counter as it has sat for over a week, waiting for you to be desperate enough to eat it. It's either some kind of cracker covered chocolate, or perhaps a dried out cookie dipped in powdered sugar that you choke on as you swallow. But you don't care. If you eat it, it means it's still Christmas break, and you don't have to face reality…not just yet.
Sadly, today was the first day back to school, and as you might imagine, the moods were somber this morning as we were all getting out the door. Jack was also talking non stop about a class he was trying to drop in order to get into PE "so I can be with Zak". No, he doesn't give a crap about being in shape or staying active. It’s all about being with his best friend. The one they call "Ginger".
Little Sass and I dropped Will off and Billy took Jack and Faith. The whole drive to school Will was giving himself a pep talk about how "it's time to face life and put on my big boy pants". I couldn't help but feel sad watching him walk off to face the day. But alas, as a mother of four, there's no time to sit around wishing for days gone by. As soon as we got home, I got busy! After almost 3 weeks of children underfoot, I had some cleaning up to do. Dinner to get cooking. Laundry to be laundered. Floors to be wiped. I even bought the boys matching Star Wars sheets, as if I wasn't already awesome enough.
You probably think I have toddlers, considering I bought my boys Star Wars sheets. Your assumption does not offend, trust me. But no, in fact I have a 15 and 10 year old that almost cried tears of joy when they saw their new sheets/pillowcases. I can't help it. I knew it would make them so happy, and they've been sleeping on torn, raggedy sheets for a couple years now and it was way past time to replace the old ones. So what if I have a teenager, who will turn 16 in two days, that loves Star Wars sheets. Truth be told, his dad would be just as thrilled if I threw some California king sheets covered in storm troopers on our bed too. (Not happening. Dream on sucker).
The birthday boy has already celebrated the big 1-6 with a bunch of buddies over break. They went to see, NO SURPRISE HERE, Star Wars. (for the second time) Since we already celebrated, his actual birthday will be low key, with school and homework, and just getting through the day. However, just because Jack has already partied, it does not mean that I won't bring up his birth story once again at dinner. I like to do this from time to time, or say, about once a year, just to gross the kids out. And even though it disgusts them, the story fills me with such joy. Becoming a mother, the day that boy shot out like a rocket, has been one of the most transforming moments in my life.
It feels like yesterday, the day I became a mother 16 years ago. I can remember the first night so well, holding and admiring my new son. Soon after he came home from the hospital, Billy had to go back to work. The first day I was home alone with Jack, Billy called to make sure everything was okay. I remember telling him through my tears how completely happy I was, like everything else I had done was nothing compared to being a mom. I had no idea how much work was ahead, dear Lord, not a clue about what was to come. And still is.
Every stage of parenting has been difficult. Babies, toddlers, the elementary years, and teenagers…All of it brings new challenges, battles, heartaches, and joy. One of the best and wisest things Billy and I ever did, without even meaning to, was become friends with people of all ages, and watched closely how they parented. We took notes, and if we saw something that wasn't working, we'd discuss it and make sure to do our best to do things differently. When we've seen our friends at the tail end of parenting, with kids who don't smoke, don't chew, and don't go with the boys that do, we've tried to follow their example. Sure, we've read some books on parenting along the way too, but the best training has been watching others and learning from their victories and mistakes. At the end of the day, we just try and do our best. If we blow it, and we usually do, we just try and do better the next day. And we say sorry. We say sorry a lot.
The other day at church, a sweet lady named Judi came up to ask me if Jack was my son. She told me she had been a former teacher and can "tell the ones who are going to turn out alright". She complimented us on Jack, his character, and what a kind young man he is. Not five seconds later did he walk up to me and shine a laser pointer in his 3 year old sister's eyes. Keeps me humble, that kid. Always has and always will.
Billy and I would not trade one second of this past 16 years for anything. What a ride, going at warp speed (stupid Star Wars), these years with our kids. What will tomorrow hold? I have no idea, but I know God holds our tomorrow tightly in His hands. And through it all, He is good. All the time.