Empty Nester {Phase I}

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I’ve been joking around for a few months now that I’m heading into the first phase of being and Empty Nester. I mean, for the past 13 years, besides sleeping and the occasional solo adventures, 3 hours was the longest I had a child away from me. I chose to do a home based pre school swap for more than just pinching pennies, it’s because I like my kids being around. I like watching them interact, I like to see how they learn. I don’t think that I’m cut out to be a full on educator in the home school arena, and I actually see a real benefit in helping them to become independent adult in sending them off to school for a number of reasons. But, it’s hard to let them go.  Today marks a day that I’ve sort of been dreading, but also secretly been giddy about, which leaves me feeling guilty. We can’t win, can we?!?

I’ve said before that I’ve actually been grateful to have this website, and my photography business because it helps distract me from being fully obsessed with my children. I love being all up in their business, want the neighborhood kids to play at my house, love to host gatherings, be up at the school, ask for details about the day, but as my husband will tell you, there are times I need to cut those apron strings. I’ve been grateful to have something to help with that separation anxiety. Something like THIS PLACE to give me something to divert my attention a bit.

Now I’ll admit that this website blogging adventure has also stepped over into the “too much” category and I’ve had to step back to make sure my priorities are straight. Always looking for that balance.

All in all, I’ve been sad to enter into this next phase of my life, and last week I was a blubbering mess for a number of reasons with school stuff, but mostly that my baby headed off to kindergarden. Last spring, she was so nervous, which made me nervous, but over the summer the excitement has built, and over the last few days, she’s been jumping up and down, thrilled at this new adventure in front of her.

I had a fabulous summer with my kids, we really had a great time, and I truly relished in my time spent with them. They make me laugh, my heart swell with joy, but too much un structured time can also start to get on everyone’s nerves, too. It’s truly bittersweet to send them off into the world again.  I only have FIVE years left with my oldest, and as I’ve seen a few friends recently send their oldest off to college and missions, I seriously get all emotional just thinking about it. I’ve always relished int he title of being the mom to my children. I never felt a loss of identity at being called “Tyler’s mom” it’s always been a favorite title. I like it more than photographer or blogger, but HIS mom. I love him so much, and he had dispelled anything I’d ever heard about teenagers–he is AMAZING!

Not only do they go to school, but schedules get more hectic with activities, too. Grateful for long summer stretches to relax and reset.

Now to the First Day of School at the Duke household! I took 224 pictures, and I narrowed it down here for you!  Here is my favorite smily pictures, signs from Yellow Bliss Road.

First day of school

and some silly faces…

silly faces

and now they like to do the mad faces…

mad faces

and this one is just cute…

cute kids

Individual shots…

Back to school for kids

Then I sent the boys off with their neighbor buddies

neighbor friends

on their bikes

bicycles

for some reason, this scene just melts my momma heart!

biking to school

Then the girls and I walked, I just love them. Though I’m sad that the camaraderie of the middle two is now different that he is in middle school, it’s a start of something new with the girls.

Girls Walk to School

because from what I hear…sisters are the best

sisters

Quick phone snap outside. I had my oldest take it of me and my youngest, then a nice passer by  asked if he could take one of the three of us–I love it!

mom and girls

Even though I got up at 6:30 am, got dressed, made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, and prepped lunches last night, with all the picture taking, we got off late, and my 4th grader went off to her class without me. She’s ok, she was SOOO excited about today. I love that.

4th grader off

First day of school

When I dropped off my youngest, she had a touch of apprehension, but she didn’t cry, so I didn’t cry. We can do this.

First day of kindergarden

She’s going to be ok.

saying goodbye

I’m headed off now to pick up the girls, and I can’t wait to hear all about it! The suspense is killing me! I decided to just stay home today, I’ve got plenty to do, and I was happy to get working on things at home. I generally like a good “Tears and Cheers” lunch with friends, but something about being alone today just sounded nice.