I find myself sitting at the computer, in a quiet house, reflecting on the word change. Change, it is one of those words that is used everyday, one of those words that we say and don't think about and yet, we do think about change all the time. As I sit here, I can see just a touch of change in the color of the leaves on the trees outside my window as the season changes. I can see my flower pots on the front stoop that we changed out to mums to replace the dying summer flowers. I tell my kids to change their clothes, change the channel, or change the subject. People talk about having a change of heart, changing their minds, or needing a change of scenery. People have used the word change in campaign slogans and there are websites like change.org you can use to start or sign a petition to change anything under the sun. Go to Pinterest and you can find lots of inspirational quotes like, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
People like to divide the world into two groups, the haves and the have nots, the leaders and the followers, the givers and the takers, and then you have the people that want change, embrace change, fight for change, and those that do not. But the thing is, you can't stop change, everything changes, it's just all in how you deal with it.
The Nealons have been going through some changes. The biggest one is that I have gone back to work. For twelve years, I have been the mom at home taking care of the house and the kids, doing the laundry, making the meals, paying the bills, figuring out schedules, making doctor and dentist and orthodontist appointments, carpooling kids to all their after school activities...you get the picture. Now I'm the mom that STILL does all these things (that has not changed) AND I go to work outside the home. What has changed is getting a text from one of my kids to meet them in the hall at bell change because they left their Spanish homework on their desk and they need it for next block. No more running up to school with a lunch box that was left on the kitchen counter. No more last minute requests at 10:00 at night for me to go out the next day to get whatever it is they need while they are at school.
I have been thinking about going back to work for a while, trying to figure out where the right fit for me would be. I NEVER would have thought about working at a middle school. Middle school seemed a bit scary to me. I loved my little second graders from all those years ago. I have fond memories of those years. But things change, out mindset changes. My own children have been or are middle schoolers now and they're not so scary anymore. My head was always at elementary school and yet now I am spending everyday with eighth graders. I was talking with another teacher friend on a Friday afternoon. He and I taught at the same elementary school years ago, and he was telling me that just a year ago he thought, "No way, not doing middle school," and now he loves it. We change.
Another change...Shannon is DRIVING! How did this happen? They grow up so fast! I can't be old enough to have a kid that can drive! We've heard it all before.
There is a line from the book The Fault in Our Stars, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep slowly and then all at once." This line of "slowly and all at once" can apply to so many things in my life, like slowly watching Shannon for 16 years grow into the amazing, wonderful person she is today and at the same time, the Shannon that stands before me has appeared all at once. How can this be?
So even though it is not a new concept that the only constant thing in your life is that life changes, I find myself thinking about it more lately. Shannon is driving, we are starting the process of looking at colleges, Timmy started high school this year, Molly is my LAST kid in her LAST year of elementary school. Where has the time gone? It all happened slowly and all at once.
I cannot stop all these changes, but I can change my mindset. It's all good, this change thing. It's still a bit scary when your kid pulls away from the house in a car all by themselves. I check my text to make sure she made it to where she was going. Each stage of life my kids enter they gain a little bit more freedom. Inside of me there is a tug-of-war of letting go just a little bit more and being the proud parent of the people they all growing up into, and then there is the me wanting to pull them back with all my might and keep them close to me. This parenting job is tricky busy. It's an emotional roller coaster.
My phone just buzzed with a text. Chris just registered Shannon for her first college open house.
They are growing up slowly and all at once.