[note]When Keri isn’t busy doing her ad/research work for grkids, she shares her insights with us about modern day motherhood.[/note]

[pullquote_left]Keri Siemens[/pullquote_left][clear]

Winters Is so Over. Time for Some New Weather!

I’ve been thinking about the changing of seasons lately. Mostly because I feel like I was waiting FOREVER for spring to finally arrive in Michigan. This winter was brutal! I don’t remember ever having so many snow days for school, and I definitely don’t remember having “it’s too cold” days! Plus, I’m pretty sure my kids were sick the entire winter. With four kids, it seems like someone is always sick. Which means I get stuck at home, wiping snotty noses, staring outside at the neverending snow that is too cold to even send the kids out to play in. This winter was cold. And long. So, so long…

I always look forward to the changing of seasons but I was especially looking forward to spring this year. One thing I love about living in Michigan is that we experience all four seasons. By the end of one season, I always enjoy looking forward to the next. Right now, as we have come to the end of the school year, I am so ready for summer- not only for the warm weather, but for days with less structure and more flexibility. Time to let go and relax a little!

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But I can tell you that by the end of summer every year, I can’t wait to get back to fall. I yearn for the structure of school and schedules and getting back to “normal” life. I love the back-to-school time of year. Everything feels new and fresh: new school clothes and backpacks stocked with brand new school supplies. And I love getting back into comfy jeans and sweatshirts.

The Liberation of Leaving the Baby Stage

As we head into a new season of the year, though, I have also been thinking about how I am entering a new season of my life. In a few weeks, my son will turn 2. He is my baby, my #4, and there won’t be any more babies in our family. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it! To his credit, he did try to stretch out his “babyhood” for as long as possible by refusing to walk until he was 19 months old. But now he’s running and there’s no stopping him. He also happened to get his first haircut the week he started walking- and suddenly, he wasn’t a baby anymore!

It was a deliberate choice to be “done” after four children and the truth is I can’t really imagine having another baby at this point. I think four is just the right number for our family. I am really excited about moving forward to the next stage of life. I mean, I have pretty much had a baby in my belly or on my hip (or both!) for the last eight years!

For one of the first times ever the other day, I walked into the house with all four kids and didn’t have to carry any of them! And not long ago my husband and I took all four kids into a restaurant (which is still a rare occurrence at this point because I like to enjoy my food, not spend the whole time cutting up other people’s food and cleaning up spills.)–and it went well! No tears, no spills, and I didn’t have to bring baby food or try to awkwardly nurse a baby at the table. I left the restaurant feeling like I had seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

I now sleep through the night uninterrupted. I only have to go through potty training one more time. I no longer carry a diaper bag; I just throw a diaper in my purse. And next fall, with one child starting kindergarten and one starting preschool, I will have three kids in school!

Things Will Never Be the Same

But at the same time, it’s just so hard to move on, isn’t it? Thankfully, my sisters are still having babies, so I have new little cheeks to kiss and little people to snuggle, but sometimes I look at those sweet little faces and my heart aches just a little. I feel the need to just scoop up my own “baby” and smother him with kisses. Everything about this season feels so bittersweet. And a little bit like whiplash, too, since I can’t seem to decide how I feel!

So for a while I’ve been telling myself “It’s just another season. Embrace it!” I have been learning to embrace the change. But it’s also occurred to me that this is not just another season, like summer giving way to fall. Summer will be back again next year, but my babies will never be babies again.

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Accepting the New Season

So now I tell myself to “accept it.” It know it seems like semantics, but for me, that subtle change is freeing. Instead of feeling like I need to choose between embracing or mourning, I can just accept that it is. And some days I will be celebrating newfound freedoms and other days I will be deciding that I can never allow my baby to grow up. And that’s ok.

It might just be me, but I feel like acceptance can sometimes be a difficult place for moms to reach. We don’t want to accept that our daughter might not be the smartest kid in the class. Or our son might not actually be athletically inclined. It’s hard to accept that our body will never look exactly like it did before we had children. Or that our house will never be as clean or as organized as we might like.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to better ourselves or our circumstances. But if we hold onto things that we cannot change, we can’t really be moving forward. We won’t be able to enjoy the next season if we are holding on too tightly to this one or refusing to accept the reality of it.

I’m learning that I don’t have to love it– whatever “it” may be in this season. I don’t have to embrace it. I don’t even have to know how I feel about it; I just need to accept that it is. And then I can be free to enjoy all the seasons.

Although I certainly won’t complain if next winter is a bit shorter.

See Keri’s other articles on modern day motherhood:

Dear Mom:  An Open Letter to All the Hardworking Moms Out There

Why Finding Time to Play With My Kids is Hard…And What I’m Doing About It

I’m Accomplishing Exactly Nothing By Feeling Guilty

Every Mom Has Her Thing

Confessions of an Un-Fun Mom…And Why I’m taking a Step Back From Facebook

You Are Fortunate