I remember when I was in high school it felt like I would be there forever.  Those four years dragged mercilessly as I navigated who I was and who I hoped to become.  Then all of a sudden it was over and I was in college.  I was an “adult” living in an apartment with a job and bills and freedom.  Sweet freedom.  Life felt amazing!  Then in a flash I was married and less than two years later pregnant with my now 12 year old daughter, Emma.  And during the past 12 years, as I’ve grown up, lived in 3 states, started a business, become a homeowner, and had a few more kids, I have spent my time in a place I affectionately and not-so-affectionately refer to as The Trenches.

If you’re a mom you are undoubtedly familiar with this place where little sleep, infrequent showers, selflessness, and tiny, needy, beautiful children constantly entertain, interrupt, frustrate, and melt you.  It is one of the best destinations life’s train has dropped me and also one of the most terrifying.  Life in The Trenches has been hard and wonderful; never-ending and fleeting all at once.  It seemed like we would be there forever, balancing nursing and diapers, teething and baby food, crawling and testing limits, nursery rhymes and singing, walking and talking, park playdates and goldfish, book after book, timeouts and tantrums (me, not them), preschool and newfound independence with the grown-up demands of careers, relationships, friendships, serving, and self-care (yeah right).  Finding that balance was difficult and guilt-laden so consequently we succumbed to the culture of The Trenches which in one word is Sacrifice.  Constant, total, suffocating, opposite-of-freedom sacrifice.  Them before me, all day, everyday.

But alas, the seasons have changed again.  My eviction from The Trenches is here (it’s been here for a few years, I just happened to realize it last week).  How?!  How did 12 years go by so fast?  How did they all grow so quickly and stop needing me for every single thing?

Now my three “babies” are in junior high and elementary school.  They can make their own breakfast and lunch (but I usually do it because I make it special and I love people through food), they can bathe and dress themselves, they have social lives and deadlines, and they’re all gone ALL DAY at school.

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With the arrival of Emma’s 12th birthday last week it dawned on me that life’s train has ushered me to my next destination, one possibly scarier than the last: Coach and Counselor.  My time spent in the The Trenches was a dictatorship; I was the commander and they were expected to be obedient.  Now I am a Coach to my elementary kids, where I help them clarify their choices versus dictate.  For my pre-teen, I am a Counselor.  Mark and I are no longer the only influences in her life and the teen years are where we’ll transition Emma from dependence to independence, which starts with independent decision-making on her part.  We counsel, highlight pros and cons, consequences of bad choices, but ultimately, she needs to make decisions for herself.  THAT IS TERRIFYING FOR ME.  Jesus give me strength!  But a huge bonus of this new phase of life is that for the first time in over a decade I now have time.  What a commodity!  The last time I had time I was 22.  This realization last week made me cry out of equal parts relief for surviving The Trenches and sadness for not savoring their chubby little snuggles longer (if you’re in The Trenches please go snuggle your chubby baby right now!).  Perhaps this over-abundance of time is meant to prepare me for the next phase of parenthood, when they leave. *sniff, sniff* I just can’t!  Lets not go there today. :(

A huge highlight of Emma’s birthday party this past weekend was the homemade apple-spiced cake with cinnamon whipped cream that I made.  I figure no matter what season of life you’re in, there’s always a reason for cake!  And this one is especially perfect for the fall season!  You can find the recipe here.  I hope you enjoy it with your family and savor your phase; it won’t last long. xo!

Okay guys, I’m off to the gym.  Because I have time… (this is still weird for me).
Alison