Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Parent"dox: Feeling ExcitedSadProudAnxiousEagerNostalgic

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #12: Feeling ExcitedSadProudAnxiousEager

I realized something this week.  My family is now entering into that "next phase" of life, where our kids are getting more involved in things, from sports to school to church to friends.  They are becoming "big kids" who do "big kid" things.

Beyond a couple nights of soccer and tball, a couple of "big kid" milestone events also worked their way into our week.  We had our son's kindergarten orientation meeting at school (yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said kindergarten!).  A few days later, we had his kindergarten move up meeting at church for moving from the preschool classroom to the school age program next fall.  And we capped off this "big kid" week with my daughter's 3rd birthday party today.  

That's some serious growing up action crammed into 6 days!

So, how am I feeling after this milestone-filled week?  I have one word.  


(Is that a word?  If not, I am officially submitting it to the people who determine such things to make it a word.  Because it should be.)

I stumbled into this "parent"dox after I tucked my son into bed the night of his kindergarten orientation meeting.  Going into that night, I thought I would simply be sad that my oldest was growing up so fast.  Clear cut.  Simple.  One emotion.  I knew what to expect.  

Parenting is a lot of things, but clear cut and simple it is not.  (Apparently I'm a slow learner on this one...)

So no, that night was no different than any other night of parenting thus far.  It was not clear cut.  It was not simple.  I didn't know what to expect.  

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a at least a little bit of sadness, but there was also so much more than that.  So much more that I hadn't anticipated.  

I was excited for all of the opportunities that kindergarten held for my son:  the things he will learn, the friends he will make, the more he will grow into his own incredible self.

I was incredibly proud of the little boy my son is becoming.  How he is learning and growing.  How he sat and listened, how he interacted with his soon-to-be classmates and teacher, how he seemed to soak up everything that night like a little sponge.

I was anxious about him going into this great big world all on his own.  Riding the bus, eating lunch at school, being at school all day.  The 'what if's' have already started piling up in my little prone-to-worrying brain.

I was eager for him to begin this journey.  I saw a sparkle in his eye as he toured his classroom and met his teacher.  There was pure joy on his face as he met the class pet fish, checked out the cozy reading corner, found out their were Legos in his classroom, took a ride on the school bus, ate ice cream in the cafeteria, and finally got to see the music room where he found out, yes indeed, there will be a show next year.  He was eager to do all these things, and that, in turn, filled me with an eagerness I hadn't anticipated. 

I was nostalgic as I kept thinking about how incredibly fast these last nearly 5 years of his life had flown by.  I thought about how it seemed like just yesterday he was a newborn, who needed me for everything, and now he was a "big kid" who could do so much on his own.  I thought about how his cousin had entered kindergarten when he was only 2 months old.  She'll be heading off to 4th grade this fall.  How fast would the next 5 years go for my son?  And the next 5 after that?  

The thing that was amazing to me is I was truly feeling all of these things at the same time.  An then at the church kindergarten meeting, I felt them all over again.  And the same thing at my daughter's birthday party.  Feeling so many big emotions, that were so very different from one another, all at the same time.

Stretching your Capacity to Feel
I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby, my dad told me "When you are a parent, you realize the capacity for human emotion.  When I became a dad, my capacity to 'feel' was stretched farther than I ever imagined it could be, in all directions possible."  

At the time, I remember thinking "Huh.  That's a lovely little sentiment.  He should sell that to Hallmark or something."  

Now that my own two kiddos are here, I am starting to understand and appreciate what he was saying.  With a 5 and 3 year old, I'm guessing it's still just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm guessing I've still got a long was to go, and a lot more "understanding" and "appreciating" that will come during the teenage years...with the rest to follow.  But I am starting to get...I mean really get...what he meant by that.  The capacity to feel, in all directions, is truly stretched and pushed to the limit when you become a parent.  I had no idea how deeply I could love and care for someone, how deeply I could feel pain and sorrow, how happy, frustrated, proud, worried, amazed I could feel.  It was different than all those amazing feelings I've had for my family, for my , for my incredible spouse.  This was my child.

These emotions somehow just felt "different."

At the same time, it has also made those feelings I have for my family, my friends, for my incredible spouse that much deeper and bigger and wider.  My dad nailed it:  My capacity to 'feel' was stretched farther than I ever imagined it could be, in all directions possible.  And somehow, in one of life's great "parent"doxes, feel all those things at the same time.

How is it that your own parents become geniuses the second you become a parent yourself?  

I think next week's "parent"dox may already be writing itself...

When you feel a million different emotions all at the same time, You Are a Good Mom.

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  1. Beautifully written, Carrie. It is incredible what changes we wrought upon ourselves when we made the decision to have kids.

  2. Love, love, love what your dad said. Right now my kiddos are REALLY into big kid son is married and my daughter just finished her first year of teaching! And I'm sitting here TOTALLY relating to this post. Those feelings...those memories...they never go away. To me, there is incredible comfort in knowing I will always remember. Thanks for the beautiful post.

    1. Thanks for your beautiful comment, Lisa. Amazing how certain things we can all relate to, no matter how old our "babies" are. (Congrats to your daughter on her first year of teaching, too!!)


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