“What are you going to do with all your free time now??”
I’ve heard this question several times since graduating from grad school a couple weeks ago. And it gives me pause. Coming out of a 3-year season where all our days and most of our nights were full of work, school and various other responsibilities- this has been my normal. It was normal to leave the house at 7am and return at 9:55pm. Normal to start homework or studying at 8:30pm after the girls went to bed. Normal to realize David and I hadn’t been out by ourselves in at least a month. Normal to know that Saturday was the only day of family time we had, but it was also the only day we could run errands or try to be social. Normal to blink and see that our newborn was 4 months old and our 3 year old could tie things. This was normal. So now that I’ve graduated and no longer have night classes, or homework, or just the mental knowledge that there was something else I should/could be doing for school- there has been an adjustment to a “new normal.”
A new normal of going to the same job every day and coming straight home afterwards with time to play before dinner. A new normal where Friday night movie nights do not end with me studying. A new normal of being home for all bedtimes. A new normal of being able to write for fun on a Saturday morning while the baby naps and Dada and Brynn are out riding bikes with friends. A new normal of being able to hang out with our sweet sweet foster nieces and nephew and their incredible parents. A new normal of prioritizing date night at least every other week. So when people would ask during those first couple days/weeks what I’m going to do with “all my free time” there was a little voice inside saying, “should I be doing something else besides working full time and actually spending my evenings coloring the sidewalk with chalk and attempting to actually cook some dinners?” Should I pick up a hobby? Should I enroll Brynn in a community dance class? Should I join a gym (ok, I probably should exercise)? Maybe I should volunteer more? Should I start driving for Uber to make some extra money? People kept saying I had all this new free time so clearly I should be doing something more…right?
One day David said something to me out of blue along these lines, “Don’t feel like you need to rush into picking up something new now that you’ve graduated..” I forget the exact words, but I realized it was true. I needed to give myself permission to laugh when people asked me that good intentioned question and respond with, “oh you know…keep working full time and being a wife/mom.” Give myself permission to enjoy this “new normal.” To enjoy my kids being little. To enjoy laughing with David at the craziness that comes with parenthood. To go to Costa Rica for a week with no kids purely because we can and we want to. To go see friends on a weeknight. For David to be able to go see friends on a weeknight. To build forts in the living room. To catch caterpillars and watch my girls’ faces light up with wonder when they pop out of their chrysalises as butterflies. To make silly houses of straws. To have dance parties DJ’d by a toddler-controlled Alexa after bath time. To cuddle with a Mama-infatuated baby, not to spoil her, but to cherish this time where she still wants to cuddle with Mama.
My parents were visiting a couple weeks ago and my Dad said, clad in his famous proud-dad face, “You should be proud of all you’ve accomplished these past few years, Kiley. It was hard and you did it.” And my mom said in her experienced Mom voice, “And now, you can experience being ‘just’ a working mom, instead of a working, going to school Mom. You really haven’t experienced that before.” And they both were so right. I have been taking inventory and reflecting on the past few years and dang it- I AM proud of what I did. What our little family did. I am very proud. But I’m also so very glad that season is over.
And I am so very excited for this next season of Motherhood.
So very excited for this season of creating memories dusted in sidewalk chalk and love.