What I have learned from school

Here I am in my office wondering how many oatmeal creme pies I can eat before turning into one. Now, I’ll need a new helper day snack for Micah’s class because I have officially eaten too many of them. (Don’t tell Autumn Calabrese, she wouldn’t understand.) What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Micah will likely never find out unless I publish a book about this time in our lives when I used to hide and binge on creme pie cookies.

This new season of school was like going from my slow and steady pace of staying at home all day every day with five little kids, to voluntarily going through one of those old fashioned wringer washers. Between kindergarten and preschool, drop offs and pickups equaled about 3 hours  driving time before one o’clock. Once home, the kids would go nuts while I silently watch the clock count down to “quiet time.” (This is my new version of nap time because I am hopelessly dependent upon those two hour naps and I have discovered the travesty of my kids outgrowing them.)

Although we have five children, they didn’t come one at a time while we acclimated to parenthood. Rather, our first three stormed into our lives in eleven months. For the first time in six years, I am at home with just two and oh how I love these precious hours! Yesterday we read Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches and What Was I Scared Of? (my personal favorite) twice each. Pure bliss.

As the youngest in my family I have often heard the theory and even been accused of the youngest being the favorite. However, it occurred to me this year that the youngest are not favored in a family. They are simply on the receiving end of parents who are waking up to the fact that this family is growing up and will soon be gone. The youngest are around to experience the polished, parenting methods we did not yet have with our first.  It appears like parents favor the youngest but truly, it’s simply a shift of perspective that affects our behavior. By the time our youngest children cruised onto the scene, I had only begun to learn which battles are not worth fighting.

For example: every night Esther used to want to wear her princess dress to bed, and it was a fight  to get her into her pajamas nearly every night. Now, Ruthie wants to live in her Rapunzel dress day and night and I simply don’t care if she does. I realize now what seemed so important in principle earlier, is really not a big deal. In the end my relationship with them supersedes any costume-pajama combo they may come up with. And really – there is such a short window in our lives when we can dress up as a princess every. single. day. Or Captain America if you are my like my boys.

So here’s a toast to this new season and all that I will be learning. This parenthood thing is a refining fire, and it can be easy to focus on the ashes, but more and more I see the strength and beauty of what remains. God has shaped and strengthened me through these little people. It amazes me the impact such a tiny person can have. After all, “A person is a person no matter how small.”