The day starts by helping get my daughter ready for school. We do our secret handshake as she rushes out the door and onto the bus. It’s then just the three boys and me for the morning until we load up and into town to drop off my 5-year-old for afternoon kindergarten. The drive is long but pleasant. Kids nursery rhyme music aside, I love the silence.

It’s now just the two boys. One is three years old and the other is three months. It’s a long afternoon with some house minding and lots of demands from my toddler. He cuddles up to me as I try to escape into a YouTube video. He wants snacks and the fox song. Sometimes I give in, sometimes we have it out. The baby is happily bassinet content. All in all, it’s an adorably exhausting time.

It’s nearing 4 p.m. and I’ve got supper stress thanks to neglecting my slow cooker meal prep this morning. My sweet baby is no longer in his sleepy afternoon state and wants me . . . now. I feel the stress starting to rise.

The witching hour is upon usmy two littles are at their neediest and my mental load is getting heavy. I’m grouchy.

Before I know it, I hear the tires rolling down the gravel road to our home. The bus is here. I’m on my bed nursing the baby. I hear the door open and slam shut. They’re home. I yell out to them, “Welcome home!” They rush to the bathroom arguing over who gets to use it first. We only have one.

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I ask them how their day was and they quickly rush through what little they can remember. It was a long day for them too. Then they ask if they can watch something, and I say yes. They run away to the living room. My husband calls and we chat for a little while about our day as he drives home. I finally get supper going.

They’re independent enough to grab the snacks they desire and self-entertain. They’re already out of school rule routines and into their free-range home life. We’re all at the dinner table and the evening rush of suppertime comes and goes.

Then, a small window of games or other play happens before jammies and family prayer. Bedtime snuggles turn into playtime with our oldest kids, probably because they finally get us to themselves. Of course, my hubs and I are pretty burnt out and usually tell them it has to be short snuggles tonight.

After the house is quiet and I just have my nursing babe in my arms, I start to feel the energy pick back up in my brain and heart. I’m physically tired, but mentally wide awake and recharged.

I miss my kids. Particularly my oldest two.

I didn’t get to spend enough time with them. I rarely do anymore it seems. Without me ever saying a thing about it, they fully recognize the younger two need me more right now, and they’ve selflessly obliged to be on the back burners. No fuss. They love their littlest brothers and help care for them just the way big siblings should. But they’re my babies too, and I crave their presence. 

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Do my school kids know I miss them?

Do they feel like a distraction from mommy’s important work as they come off the bus? Do they know how I carry them inside my heart’s prayer whenever we’re apart?

I’m trying to get better at being more present with them when they come home. To watch them step off the bus and notice their facial expressions and walking cadence. Are they excited? Tired? Sad? I walk toward the door as they open it. Welcome home my loves.

Julie Jensen

Julie is a wife and mother of four little ones. She is a ranch-raised introvert and craver of the simple life. Faith is her anchor. Writing is her passion. Country Best Blog is her blog. Journaling Is for You is her book. And Julie C. Jensen Author/Writer is her Facebook page.