This was my first year as a mom of a full-time student. My littlest is still home with me in the mornings, but my oldest daughter, Iris, is a full-fledged, all-day kindergartner and proud of it. As it is our first school year, I also had my first-ever Christmas break as a mom.
Honestly, I was prepared to hate it. I’d spent the whole semester adjusting to schedules that weren’t my own, running kids from place-to-place, meeting the new influencers in my children’s lives. Life was decidedly simpler in some ways – and less so in others. But once you make that shift, you see the good in it, you relish minutes to yourself; and I met plenty of veteran moms dreading the day the kids came home for three long weeks.
Before school, I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. I got that “the days are long” but really, we had our systems and they worked just fine. With my girls being less than 20 months apart, most days I spent the first couple years of their lives hunkered down in our house. Maybe that sounds insane to some women, but I came to love the mornings, especially, when my babies would kick and play on the floor in front of the fireplace.
My kids grew, as they do, and our days began to fill up a bit. There was the neighborhood preschool co-op once a week, story time at the library, church programs on the weekends; the girls each wanted to tryout T-ball or ballet. Their schedules became my schedule, and as such, their worlds got a little bigger than me. It was exciting to behold, but it was hard too.
Then this year: school. The worlds doubled I had to keep up with the friend-of-the-week and their parents, and risk the potential of giving up the weekend to a play date. It was exciting to pick up the girls at 3 p.m. and hear all the news of the day. I marveled at how they were learning, how quickly they were coming into this new, vibrant version of themselves. And I was grateful for the two-and-a-half hours that were mine every day. I could go to Target by myself! I could work, uninterrupted! Sometimes, I’d do nothing! (And by nothing, I mean watch a terrible movie and eat ice cream I did’t have to share.)
Back to Christmas break. Day 1:I woke up a little worried. What would we do? Would the girls still get along all day? How many Christmas movies do we actually own on DVD in the event of a breakdown? But I woke up to the sounds of sisters playing in their jammies. I gave them free reign of the house for as long as they wanted to be nice to each other. They set up their dolls and a restaurant; played with PlayDoh and read books together in their tent, and drew countless pictures that I vowed would make their home on the front of our refrigerator. It was glorious.
Day 2: it was the same. We lounged in our dining room and made art projects. I drank two cups of hot coffee. We sang songs and the girls dressed up in princess gowns and danced circles on the living room carpet. Around lunch time, while I was making soup and the girls were setting the table, Iris came up to me in the kitchen. She gave me a hug and said, “Mommy, I love these days at home with you. I like being in my jammies and just chillin’.” Then she scampered away to find her sister.
I laughed at her use of “chillin’” and then I cried at how special her remarks were. For all she’s stretched and grown this year – for all the ways all of us have in this new phase of life – it was the simple mornings at home that meant something to her. It was a glimpse of having them teeny-tiny again and my heart was so grateful that I’d thought to file that boring, everyday memory away.
In other year or so, I’ll turn into one of those women who look at the moms of babies and say ridiculous things like, “Enjoy it while you can.” And they’ll roll their eyes at me because, you’re right – it’s annoying to have someone say that to you. But if I do turn into that person, and if I do say that to you, consider that once I was in those long, long days. I never left the house and I never saw another person over the age of two. I rarely changed out of yoga pants or bothered brushing my hair. And in that weird time warp of a few years, surrounded by baby things, I thought to make a memory of it. You should too.
Sarah Ann Noel married into a family where she became the fourth Sarah Noel, so in the interest of originality, Sarah Ann Noel it shall be.
Sarah is a wife, a mother, and a prodigious over-thinker, fueled by superfluous amounts of caffeine. She likes to color coordinate her books and leave her hair messy. She and her family travel a lot, which Sarah documents through photos and video. Sarah is a freelance writer and contributes regularly to several magazines and online platforms.
She is working on her first book. Read more at sarahannnoel.com.