Today my youngest child started kindergarten. I am officially a mom in the middle of motherhood. For the first time in my nine years of parenting, all my children are school-aged. Everyone is potty trained and goes to sleep with a goodnight hug and kiss. I no longer carry a diaper bag or pay for daycare. No one naps, and I can sleep in on weekends.
This kindergarten drop-off was not a hard one though I did cry. The emotions are all so mixed. I love the freedom I now have, but my last baby needs me less and less.
My husband and I were in the trenches of baby and toddlerhood for so long. I am not saying it gets any easier; things are different. Bigger kids and bigger problems are definitely true, but some things have lightened my load. For example, drop-off playdates and birthday parties, independence during homework, and my middle child can help walk the youngest into school.
As a mom in the middle of motherhood, it is easy to make plans on the fly. We can take day trips without working around eating or sleeping schedules. As a family, we can stay out late, and older kids are much easier to leave with a babysitter.
The best part of this mom in the middle stage is that my kids still want to do things with me. They love family vacations and going to the beach, and they will still pose for obligatory pictures documenting all milestones and adventures.
Because I have a pre-tween with a mood that can swing fast, it is always in the back of my mind that these times are fleeting. We have a way to go before we deal with puberty, teenage drama and heartbreaks, having kids who drive, or dropping kids off at college. I often think about what it will feel like in those moments as I have watched my children grow so quickly over the years. I know the emotions will be mixed just like today’s were. Proud, excited, and a twinge of sadness.