Friday, May 25, 2012

The End of An Era


If you saw the title and were thinking this was going to be a post about weaning Baby Graves or AP finally being potty trained fully....uh, sorry.  Those posts will come, and they're probably not too far off, to my shock and dismay.  However, this post is about another equally bittersweet milestone.  

A couple of months ago, I started really thinking about what I wanted next year to look like for our family.  Even though it would be bending the rules a bit as she'd already be three, I had gotten the okay to keep AP in the Mother's Day Out program she's been in for the past three years since I work at it (I didn't really think we'd send her to our church's preschool because we're planning on homeschooling).  I kept thinking and praying and I went back and forth.  We put in an application for a two day a week homeschool program, but she ended up on the waiting list.  I felt really torn and just prayed about it.  I got to the point where I was really stressed and pretty much agonizing over it.  I wanted to keep doing MDO, but at the same time a lot of things seemed to be pointing toward that door starting to close for us.  The biggest issue is that as Peyton's schedule has become increasingly busy, I have become increasingly protective over our time together as a family.  On the Tuesday and Thursday mornings when he worked the late shift it meant the kids hardly saw him at all since he gets home after they're in bed.  Some days, he ended up keeping Annie at home, but I really wanted to be there with them myself.  It's not just Peyton either- we've both committed to things (Junior League, church stuff, ect.) that will pull us away from home and I knew something had to give.  I finally came to grips with it and made the decision that this season was ending for us.

 Last week was the last week of Mother's Day Out for the three of us and then yesterday I had lunch with the ladies I spent the past year working with.  I was surprisingly unemotional both days, but today I am a mess.  I wanted to write about my feelings and my friendships while it was still so very fresh.  

I have been so blessed because the two long term (over a year) jobs I have had have been so significant in the relationships they have provided and the fullness they have brought to my life.  The first was the pool and even apart from my relationship with Peyton, that job taught me millions of lessons and I gained so much from it.  The most important thing that job brought into my life, though, of course, was my husband.  I can't even put into words my feelings about that place and that time in my life.  In a similar way, it's going to be hard to articulate my feelings now.  

I thought and thought about it and the best way I can do it is to tell you about the women I worked with.  NOW, the kids were a huge part of what made this job fun.  I love children and obviously if I didn't this job wouldn't have been a fit for me.  They kept me laughing and smiling and were just such a joy.  But, what made the job so special were the ladies I got to see twice a week and I wanted to share them with y'all for just a few minutes....

Darlene is the director of the program and I really don't even know where to start.  It speaks so much to her character that many a mom has told us how confident they are leaving their child at our program and how it has such a family feel.  On a (much) more personal note, Darlene has really become like my second mom.  I know most young moms today don't have a mentor or anyone they'd be comfortable asking to fill this role and I am so thankful that I have this in my life.  She's so encouraging and really helps me work through things.  I actually talked to her this morning and she told me that the best thing to do with my feelings was to go ahead and grieve the change.  I would have thought that was such a strong word, but it's exactly the way I feel.  So often, the best thing Darlene does for me is that she validates my feelings.  She left a career in medicine to stay home full time, so when I feel "less than" she reminds me of the importance found in the work I'm doing.  Since she goes to our church and is very active, she's also someone I look to for spiritual advice. Finally, she helps me protect our family.  As y'all know I'm not always great with boundaries, and she tells me if she things I've blogged about something I maybe shouldn't have or tweeted a compromising diaper picture of one of the kids.  It's so nice to have someone who can be so honest with me. And it's amazing how God has provided one person to sufficiently fill so many roles in my life.

Kellie and I have been in the same room for the past two years and over the past two years I've watched a beautiful friendship grow and bloom.  This was Kellie's last year too and we've joked that when she told me she was leaving that was the final straw that made my decision.  If I'm completely honest, though, it's not such a big joke.  When she told me she wasn't coming back, I realized immediately that there would be no way to recreate the atmosphere I so loved and it would never be exactly the same.  I truly believe that God was gracious to me and used this to bring clarity to my decision making process.  Because we've spent eight or so hours a week together, Kellie has been privilege to the details of my marriage, my parenting struggles, and a whole host of other things.  I've probably told her things I haven't shared with my closest friends.  She's seen dark places of despair and I haven't tried to hide the heights of my momma pride, either, when my children did something I thought was amazing.  We've hashed out plenty of fears, decisions, and issues related to mothering and I trust her so much because she has a whole gaggle of kids who are all relatively well adjusted, functional citizens of the planet.  I'm always especially interested in her relationship with her seventh grader. While she definitely is the parent, the "friendship" they have is beautiful and similar to what my sister and I had/have with my mom.  I didn't know until we become friends that that level of transparency was possible with a son and I hope to cultivate the same thing in my relationship with Graves. I adore Kellie so much and will miss our mornings together something fierce.

Julie is just a wonderful friend.  She's a tell-it-like-she-sees-it kinda girl and I truly respect that.  She's a grandmother and a former public school teacher for many years and she has some high standards.  I love that my girl was held to those standards this year.  She's also the kindest person in the world underneath that tough exterior.  She's the type that checks on you every time you are sick.  Every. Single. Time.  Like on a given day, she has parents who are seriously ill, a son deployed to a war zone, and a husband about to undergo surgery and she wants to make sure your tummy isn't still upset.  She'll also just whip up an extra casserole if she's cooking one and drop it by like it's NBD if you happen to be sick or having a family issue.  She goes to our church and keeps the nursery a lot, so I know we'll keep up.

Jennifer is the sweetest soul.  She's basically the person I picture when I read Proverbs 31.  And if I told her that her face would turn fire truck red.  The relationship her and her husband have is just the picture of a Godly marriage and she has a teenager and preteen daughters that I can honestly say I would love for Ann Peyton to emulate.  One of the little boys at MDO took to calling her "Momma" because she's just so maternal.  I know can be a working (or any) mother's greatest fear, but if it was Jen, I honestly don't think I'd mind. Recently when I got into a disagreement of my own making with a close friend, Jennifer held my hand and told me exactly how to make it better.  She's such a special person.

Margaret is so down to earth and so laid back- in other words, the exact opposite of me.  Her kids really aren't that much older than mine, but the way she mothers in such a chill way has really taught me a lot. She can instantly tell me what is and isn't a big deal. She's  the quintessential "boy mom" and I love that about her, because again, I'm so not.  So when I fah-reak about crud in Baby Graves's neck rolls or how I CAN'T! EVER! GET! HIM! CLEAN! she gently reminds me that it's a season and he won't be a disgusting sloth when he's thirty.

Sherra left at Christmas and here's why- she realized that she wasn't serving her family as well as she could and that the job was taking her away from them needlessly.  So she quit.  It wasn't a question.  I love that about her- she juggles SO many things, but never to the detriment of her children.  Or her husband.  Her selflessness speaks volumes and inspires me.  She is also one of the people outside of our family that Baby Graves loves most in the world and she loves him right back.  They had a semester of cuddles and loves and they built a pretty sweet bond. There's nothing better than watching someone love my child.

When Sherra left, Donna started and whoa!  I make jokes because she's basically SuperMom/SuperWorker.  She knows a million songs, games, and hand jives to keep kid happy and entertained for hours. And she has redic energy. She kinda put us all to shame.  After I got over my covetous heart, I realized I had a lot to learn from her to.  Mostly about being present.  I asked her once if she did all that with h\er own kids and she didn't deny it; she just said that now that they're older it kinda annoys them.  Again, Donna has no few commitments- she's the PTO president, for one thing- but her kids are clearly priority one.  You can tell she's not one who's parenting from behind a screen or a steering wheel all day long. Like I said, she has inspired me in a lot of ways, too, in the few months we've been friends.

Yesterday, Kellie put this on Facebook after our lunch and said it made her think of us.

And that's the thing.  It may be the end of an era, but it's not the end of any friendships.  Praise Him for that!

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Way to make me cry first thing in the morning, Denley! Your descriptions of the MDO group were dead on. And don't forget about how amazing you are and everything you contributed to MDO AND all of us. Thank you for being part of my journey. Love you.