I sit in an eerily quiet house as I write this. I can easily think back to those years that weren’t so long ago when I had a screaming baby, a toddler, and a Kindergartener and felt like my days were wrapped up in cleaning messes, wiping bums, and breaking up fights over who got the blue cup.
I got here fast. Much faster than I realised I would get here.
My youngest just started first grade, and I’m alone the majority of the day.
I used to daydream about these days. I used to be buried under a pile of squirmy, sick babies, or unable to get a moment of peace to use the bathroom when I had a clingy one, and daydream about the day they’d all be in school. I used to tell myself not to miss it – the precious, fleeting days when you’re in the trenches.
I tried my best not to. I tried to soak it up the best I could at the time. But, the truth is, I still got here faster than I intended.
No, my kids aren’t grown, but as my oldest started junior high and my youngest started school all day, I can see what it will be like. I can see how quiet my house will be and how clean it will be too.
I can see how cooking might feel fun again, and how I’ll be anxiously waiting for phone calls from them checking in, and how the nights when they choose to spend their nights at home instead of going out with friends will be my favourite.
I’m not there yet either though. I’m in the in-between. But, my perspective has shifted. Yes, I want my kids home more than ever, and yes I miss them. Yes, I’ll one day miss them even more than I do now, but I’m also in the stage of being so grateful I found my own passion in those early years.
Because, even though I sometimes have to turn on the TV for some back ground noise while I do laundry or straighten up the quiet house, I am actually relishing some alone time while simultaneously missing them.
The in-between years are a weird stage of parenting
It’s a funny stage this in-between when you can see the loneliness that lies ahead but don’t quite feel it 100% because they still bound in the door at the end of the day whining about homework, and not hanging up their backpacks where they should.
It’s a time where I’m a little sad – yes. But, I’m also grateful for some time to pursue myself again.
One thing I quickly realised during those years in the trenches was how lost you can feel. You can get so wrapped up and consumed by mothering, that you forget what you like to do. You forget how to use your brain for something other than nursery rhymes, and you forget what makes you excited.
It’s all about them in those early years. Just as it should be, really.
But, now it’s starting to shift a little and I feel like I can breathe, and I’m so grateful that in the midst of the chaos, I learned to cling to a little piece of myself and not feel guilty.
I learned that finding my passion was going to be the key to surviving these lonelier years.
I pursued writing while my kids were little and it turned into a career that I didn’t even know I wanted. But here I am, a published author, and excited about pursuing future writing goals as my house is quieter during the day.
So, to the mum in the trenches and feeling lost, I say this: find your passion. Search for it. Maybe you don’t know what it is right now, and that’s OK. But, take a little time each week to really pause, and think about what makes you – YOU.
Try to glimpse into the future at a quiet house. How will you fill your time? Will you work? Will you crochet blankets? Will you learn how to do yoga?
The possibilities feel a little limiting when you’re in the trenches, but you’ll get here faster than you realise. I did. I’m here now, and I’m relieved that I know what I’m doing. Where I’m going. What I want to do after they are all grown and gone.
And, it’s a beautiful thing to have that to comfort me as I sit in this quiet house.
So, don’t be afraid to say yes to a baby sitter, or to have your husband give you a night out. You need the time to think. To remember your passions and to think about what life will be like after nappys and tantrums.
Because I promise, you’ll get there faster than you think.