I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time.
It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me.
The kind of days dreams are made of, right?
I could suddenly breathe again.
I only had myself to answer to.
I got my latte and something to eat.
And then I cried.
My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the coffee shop holding my drink.
I felt so silly. Always longing for a bit of time away, being constantly surrounded by noise and questions, finally getting it . . . and then feeling completely lost.
What was wrong with me?
I do get time to myself sometimes. It’s not as if I have never done this alone. But it felt different, it felt much more permanent.
That morning, my new normal jumped up and introduced itself to me with a ferocity that I wasn’t expecting.
I no longer have babies.
I no longer have preschool-aged children at home with me all day.
It’s been nine and a half years since I became a mother. For the better part of a decade, I’ve had little ones running around. It’s been exhausting at times and very busy, with some days and some memories getting lost to mountains of diapers and sleepless nights. It’s been a joy, of course it has, but it’s also been non-stop and chaotic.
My husband and I love where we are now, and even though we have fond memories of the newborn stages, we in no way want to have any more babies.
But even though I know this is where I’m supposed to be right now, it’s still a big shift in my norm.
That particular part of my life is now changing, and I didn’t expect it to hit me as hard as it has.
I left the coffee shop that day alone. No little hand holding mine, no little voice chatting away, no little feet pulling us over to the toy shop.
I’m still a mother, and I’m still needed. All of my children are under the age of 10 and we have so much of life to look forward to with them while they’re still at home.
But nine and a half years is a long time. A long time of being needed in a very different way. Taking care of their physical needs and teaching them the basics of how to be a human. It’s no small task and it’s been hectic.
I’ve loved every minute.
Now we’re all moving on because that’s what life is about.
But a little piece of my heart, the piece that remembers cradling newborn babies, resting little ones on my hip, or gently rocking small children to sleep, that part is being left behind.
That’s what makes it harder.
It’s making way for more emotional outbursts, more intelligent jokes, and bigger hands that are now washing dishes and switching on the kettle.
They’ve changed and they’re growing, just as they should. And they can be such fun and so funny.
It’s time to evolve—family life is organic, but maybe, on occasions like that morning in the coffee shop, I may not find it so easy.
And that’s okay.
It’s because it’s been so wonderful—that’s why I struggled. I’m so proud of my girls, and we’ve created so many happy memories, especially from when they were very little.
I think it’s natural to miss those times, but those memories are going to keep me strong and ready for the next chapter. And they will remain with me forever!
Who knows, next time I may enjoy a coffee without a side order of tears.