Dinner was pizza grilled on a stone, dough by JD, sauce by me. We ate until happily full and loaded the girls in the stroller for another evening of acquainting ourselves with this new [to me] place. Still living with JD’s parents in the house where JD was raised, he took us by old neighborhood haunts, explaining bike routes and paths to the river nearby. We strolled and JD saw houses once filled with friends now home to unfamiliar faces. Things change in ten years.
In the cul de sac where JD learned to ride his bike were a handful of new kids, cropped fresh and ranging in age from 4 – 10. Ellie spied ravenously, her appetite hearty for new friends. “Go on Ellie, say hi,” we encouraged.
And our three year old wearing rain boots on opposite feet marched up to this friendly gang of kids and started talking with them as if they went to high school together years ago and were picking up right where they left off. We let Claire toddle quietly to where they were, and as if on cue, Ellie held up her finger and said, “wait. I must go get my Cware.”
She met Claire, held on to her hand, and helped her to where the kids stood. “This is Cware Adawina Kawena Groves.” The kids, most of them old enough to realize this was insanely cute, smiled and asked if they were sisters. We couldn’t hear the reply but Elianna was holding up fingers of three and motioning as if making friends was the easiest thing in the world. Oh I envy…
And then something happened that will probably never happen again. Not quite the same, anyway. Elianna paused, noticed JD and I weren’t in on the action and beckoned us, “mommy! daddy! come over here!!!” And it was in that moment that I realized this is the inbetween. Independent enough to make friends and confidently make her way to a group of older kids by herself, and yet baby enough to want our presence right there too. In a couple years, if she is anything like me, we won’t be allowed to walk her to the bus stop on her first day of kindergarten or stay close by in the classroom (yes, I know. I was totally cruel)…
This small moment in time is fleeting. Still in diapers at night, begging for a sippy cup and needing to be held when it’s hard to say goodbye, but confident and sure and independent and on her way all at the same time.
I realized tonight, I’m in no rush. The reason I’m choosing right now to not work full time is because, while I have the rest of my life to pursue a career, I only have small years to completely exhaust myself with diapers and snacks and meals and mindless games and helping them down the slide. And it’s not a platform, or a stance I’m making about moms working or not or part time or full time or what have you… really it’s not. In this transition where I’ve let go of my title and working mom status (which, as a youth pastor, isn’t super glamorous but it is me and it has been my vocational identity for five years), my biggest fear has been losing myself, my identity, to snot and board books.
But tonight I fell in love with my three year old and my one year old a bit more. I remembered the swaddling and late night nursing and potty training past and present and future and how tired I
was am and how it’s totally completely 100% worth it.
Even if I’m not allowed to walk her to kindergarten.