Ashley Copeland

How Could I Plan for This?

Ashley Copeland
How Could I Plan for This?

I am a planner by nature. In fact, if you are reading this, then you know I am a planner, because I’ve made a career out of planning weddings. I need to have things mapped out so much that I have a planner for my planner.  

But there is one thing I have not planned for this summer… one thing I couldn’t have planned for even if I wanted to.

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My youngest child is starting kindergarten.  He is my baby boy, my caboose, my bull in a china shop, my kind-spirited little one who jumped off the diving board at age 18 months, and in August he is leaving home for a new adventure. I have known this day was coming, but on paper the calendar date seemed so far away. I always laughed to myself when moms would tell me, “Hang on to these younger days – they go by quickly.” But the days of my boys being little seemed so long sometimes, it was as if they would never end. But I loved those days, even the ones when I was so exasperated. 

I loved summer days at the pool. I loved lazy mornings where we all wrestled in the big bed. I loved putting them on my feet and playing airplane (while telling myself I was actually doing squat exercises).  I loved naptime with my boys. We would talk while I scratched their heads until they fell asleep, and then I would fall asleep with them, most of the time holding their hands.  

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When Noah started Kindergarten two years ago it was a rough time. But things were easier because I still had Hart at home most days. Now my baby is leaving the nest, and I feel so uncomfortable. My house will be quiet, I will not be breaking up fights, I will not be telling Hart every 15 minutes he doesn’t need another snack, and I won’t hear the laughter or the tears as they wrestle like brothers do. I won’t hear the racket of their Nerf gun wars (though I might not miss that too much). 

I feel excited to watch Hart grow up, but it leaves a hole in my heart. A deep one. One that you might not ever understand unless you experience it. I had babies with the mindset to nurture and protect them. Now, I have to nurture in different ways and pray that God directs me in wisdom as I let go and trust our amazing school and teachers to protect and guide my sweet boys during the day.

If I am being honest, I’d say that some nights have been debilitating. Tucking the boys in bed during the lead up to kindergarten has been difficult. I cry internally while we pray and sing, and then I walk out of their room, and the floodgates open. Some moms are super excited to let their kids start the amazing experiences of going to school. But in the back of my mind it feels like we are leaving behind something I will never get back. Those days will never come back to me except in my mind.

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Will they think about me while they are making new friends and new memories? Will they remember to be kind to others?  Will bible verses we memorized over the summer come to their minds when they are confronted with a tough situation? Will they stick up for others who might seem lonely and ask to play? Will they have a heart for the hurting children? Will they share? Will they obey? Will they use their manners? This will always be my prayer as I let go of their sweet hands each morning at the front door of Edgewood Elementary.

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To all of you mamas out there feeling like the days are daunting and that sleep will never find you again: Trust me, it will! Don’t rush it. Enjoy the zoo, enjoy the walks around the neighborhood, even if you feel so lonely because you have a newborn that can’t talk back to you. Enjoy sitting on a blanket in your front yard letting them crawl, because soon they will be climbing and falling out of trees. Enjoy the new mom friends that you will meet at library story times. Enjoy striking up conversations at the park about how cute other kids are. Swing with your kids, and get off your phones. Enjoy washing stained clothes, because that means they had a fun day. Enjoy your tears when their tears won’t seem to stop and you don’t know what’s wrong with them. Because the truth is, God is preparing you for letting them go. In this trying time I recall Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

As I prepare to send my baby off to an amazing school on August 9th, I am also preparing myself for a change. A change that I believe will be a good one (even if I need to take a deep breath before admitting it). A change that will allow me more time for my professional pursuits. A change that will allow room for my own growth, just as I know school will be promoting my little one’s growth. And even though we both will be changing, he will always be my baby. Always! That’s one thing I know I can plan on.  

 Celebrating the end of one phase of childhood while looking forward to the next. Hart and Mama on a last summer vacation before school begins. 

Celebrating the end of one phase of childhood while looking forward to the next. Hart and Mama on a last summer vacation before school begins.