Back To School Means Slow Down Time

The Boys and Me-Kaleb is 1 day old here.

Where did the time go???

Stop. Time. Go Back. Sandwiches. Missing out. Rewind. Nostalgia. Excitement. Exhaustion. Sandwiches. Possibility. Future. Hope. More sandwiches. STOP.

I’m pairing up with Charity again at The Wounded Dove for today’s #GoodEnoughMom linkup, and today’s topic is Back to School, which is a very difficult topic for me this year.

I’ve watched the commercials and laughed over them and have even felt the joy of the parents. You know the ones I’m talking about, commercials like this:

But this year things are different. There is little rejoicing. Yes, there is some rejoicing, always some rejoicing, but the overwhelming emotion is a sense of breathlessness. A cry for me to do the impossible. A cry for me to

slow down time.

I spent this summer doing kindergarten registration and college campus visits and these two opposing ideals have my head spinning.

How is it possible that we have reached this point?

My thoughts are disjointed jumping from one moment to the next and I’m having a hard time getting them organized. More than getting the boys ready for school, the backpacks, the clothing, the notebooks and calculators, crayons, pencils, protractors, compasses, sneakers, pencils…

Okay this is turning into my shopping list instead of my reflection.

Back to School. Disjointed thoughts

The running theme behind each Back to School thought is quite simple

SLOW DOWN TIME.

Rather than thinking of all the stuff I need to do to get the boys and myself ready or organizing bins and book bags and all the whatever I know I should be thinking of,

I keep thinking of what I didn’t do, of what the boys missed out on, on what I missed out on, over the last five years.

On Mother’s Day 2009, I was a happy, loving Wife and Mother. I worked part time as youth minister for our local church and ran small SAT group sessions for vacation and new furniture money out of our house – the house my husband and I built together. I put his name first on every card, we sat next to each other at dinner each evening, and held hands as we fell asleep each night.

Life wasn’t perfect, but it was Good and I thought I was the luckiest person in the world.

I had no idea I would need a job to support my five boys or that the boys and I would loose our home or that I watch the person I most counted announce his affair with a Facebook “friend” and walk from my life forever.

But I did.

And I began that summer things changed.

My elementary teaching license had expired despite my Masters degree. It would take almost two full years of school to rectify, and elementary jobs were far from guaranteed so I decided to look for something more marketable – 7-12 math. I studied hard, taught myself the material, and CLEPed out of several classes. I took community college classes, online classes and in person classes at state and private universities. I travelled over 2 hours each way to take all day Sunday classes at the state’s teachers’ union office.

Still no job

I started my own SAT, ACT, SSAT, TACHS, and state test prep business and worked 6 days a week tutoring students and running classes, writing my own materials and a 150+ page SAT prep manual, and learning all I could about putting together a website, teaching foreign and distant students online, advertising, budgeting, taxes, you name it. And that doesn’t even cover the scrambling to find locations in several towns.

And still no job.

I made okay money, but the hours were long and hard on me but even harder on the kids who would have to come in from school and go to their rooms so I could work with other children at our dining room table, who sometimes struggled with their own work but were too tired for me to help by the time I was done, who just sat and watched me work while they really wanted mom time.

I worked part time teaching high school equivalency in the mornings at a local community college teaching high school equivalency. I wrote ether curriculum and researched and stayed after. I Loved my job, but it wasn’t enough so I still worked nights and weekends – with other people’s kids.

And even though I loved those kids, there were days that I had a hard time shaking the memory of my kids’ sad faces as they just wished for mom time.

And now here it is, Kaleb is going to kindergarten, Noah is starting middle school, George is in 8th grade, Matt is in 10th, and Troy is starting his final year in high school – his final year living as a boy under my roof.

And I can’t help but wonder

Where did the time go?

And was it all worth it?

all the students I love, but the children I love.

What happened to the time? Did I do the right thing by working so hard all those years? Those years we will never get back? Did I miss opportunities to talk to my older boys about drinking and sex and drugs?

More importantly, did I miss the time to talk to my boys about just Goodness and Life and Love and the Beauty that is all around us in every day in every person?

Did I miss the chance to laugh one too many times?

Did I forget to pray and choose instead to throw in a movie too often?

What did we all miss out on while I worked?

Could I have done better?

All those hours and books I wrote and classes I held the seemingly infinite number of emails for clients and just for interested parties. The late nights. The early mornings. The missed games. The kids walking almost 2 miles home from practice oon their own because they didn’t want to have to ask someone again.

What was the trade off?

Is it really good enough to be a #GoodEnoughMom?

This post is long and all over the place.

Just like my thoughts.

Except for this consistent thought: I wish I could just slow down time.

Back to School…

And good bye to a time we’ll never get back.

Thank you for bearing with me on this. I’ll go dry my eyes now, pull out some baby pictures and kiss the head of Kaleb who just shampooed his hair for the first time all by himself – slow down time.

I’ll cry a bit thinking of all we’ve missed, of how our lives have changed, and then I’ll remember again how blessed we are to live here and to be thankful for those who give us the freedom to choose Joy and Love and the opportunities to present a better life.

And I’ll know that just as God had a plan for us five years ago, He has a plan for us now.

And now, I think His plan is telling me to go and hug my children…

God Bless…

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4 Comments

  1. […] into the mailbox and took out an unusually large number of envelopes of various shapes and sizes. Back to school time was here, and for a single mom of five boys, that means a crazy amount of […]



  2. Jaime on August 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Oh my goodness, our situations are different, but I have those same thoughts going through my heart and mind. Our kids know we love them. No ifs, ands, or buts, and I know your children know you have done the absolute best you can do. Prayers for you, and thank you for speaking straight to my heart!



  3. Charity Craig on August 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. Your ponderings are the common thread through every single mother’s heart: Did I get it right? Maybe. Maybe not. Thank goodness for grace and his Love that covers us. We do the best we know how to do, and we can’t get the past back, but we have right now. We can slow down THIS moment by being present here and now. Loving our children right now, and letting go of the things we cannot change or control.

    You’re an amazing mother, and your boys are rising up to call you blessed. Keep up the good work!



    • Strahlen on August 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Thanks so much, Charity. You are an inspiration. It is so hard to put aside what “needs” to be done to get to way NEEDS to be done – take care of my kids. Thanks for understanding!



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