Finding my Else

Earlier this year, I shared a bit about my discernment process regarding my boys and preschool – sort of a brief pros and cons list as I sorted through our options.  Now we are fast approaching back-to-school season, and the decision has been made.

Even though they are not yet three, my two will soon be going to preschool.

Technically, it’s a “Parent’s Day Out” and only three mornings a week, but we are fired up and calling it “school” around here.  Which, yes, if you do the math, means that they will be starting their first of three years of preschool.  Gulp.

As you may have guessed, preschool tuition x2 (the twin factor) is definitely on the list of “cons.”

But, there are many “pros” on this list.  For the boys, there will be more socialization, different approaches to learning, new friends, increased independence, another caring adult in their lives, and much, much more.

And there are also pros for me.  To be honest, at the top of that list is this: I need a break.

I need some time away from the constant demands of, “Mommy. Mommy?… Mommy!”

I feel guilty admitting this.  I especially feel guilty admitting this as an {infertile} woman who for so long yearned for the day when I would hear that word, that name, assigned to me.


It’s a blessing.  A gift.  And {often} it is music to my ears.  But I’m exhausted.

Exhausted from the constant need.  Exhausted from the guiding, the teaching, the correcting, the praising, the referee-ing, the yelling counting, the time-outing, the crying, and the general juggling act of motherhood.

I am emotionally, physically, and mentally just…exhausted.

And then one of them breaks into a verse of Jesus Loves Me or the other snuggles his irresistible bed head on my lap, and I count my blessings that I am home with them at 9:28 in the morning.

And then I remember how, not twenty minutes earlier, I contemplated locking myself in the laundry room as I could not handle the whine fest taking place over oatmeal and banana plating options at the kitchen table.

And then I celebrate with them as they accomplish a new milestone – conquering the potty, counting to 10, learning to ride a tricycle, recognizing a new letter, or putting on shoes all by themselves – and I am reminded how fortunate I am to bear witness these big, fleeting moments.

And then I snap when they cannot get their shoes on quickly enough and we are late yet again.

I’m caught in a mental Jekyll and Hyde drama and there is no intermission.

No intermission.

So, before my Hyde gets the best of me – of us, I’m interceding.  I’m taking a break.  I’m lovingly shoving guiding my children outside our own doors and into the wide world of preschool.

And in doing so, I’m going to walk through an open door of my own.

I’m opening some windows in this place that’s becoming too dark and stuffy.  I’m getting some air.  I’m feeling the breeze and hearing the chimes and listening for where the quiet voice might lead me.

Mommy.  Wife.  Student.  

Yes.  Student.

When I say “break,” I don’t mean I need to kick up my feet and drink some tea.  Although, that sounds lovely, and I won’t pass up the opportunity should it present itself.  No.  When I say “break,” I mean I need more.  I need balance.  I need to find a way to stabilize the highs and lows, the extremes of motherhood.  I need to take a moment to be something else.

Not something instead.  Not something greater.  But something in addition.

So that I might step outside “Mommy” just enough to look back upon it and see how wonderful, how beautiful, it is.  For if I don’t, I fear I’ll wander so deep in the forest that I’ll lose sight of the trees.

And that, in part, is why they are going to preschool and I am going to seminary.

I hope I just might find it there.  The trees.  The beauty.  The balance.  The “else.”  The me.



  1. Holly, thank you for sharing your heart so honestly and beautifully. My boys are now young men but I remember the difficult choice to send them off to daycare, preschool, etc as a working mom. I know I also appreciated the break from being mommy all day. This said it so wonderfully…”Not something instead. Not something greater. But something in addition.” Blessings to you as you being seminary. How exciting!

  2. wjproulx says:

    Your honesty is so appreciated. If all of us Moms could share these feelings, so many pressures might fade.

  3. Pouring Down Like Rain says:

    Holly, your words are so beautiful in their emotion; it is what many mothers feel, but are afraid to say out loud. How exciting to start Seminary? I pray the Lord fills your cup to the brim. Kim, linking with Simply Helping Him.

  4. We all need breaks, from whatever we do, to just “be.” We don’t do that enough, for whatever reasons, so I’m glad you’ll get to do that. And don’t feel guilty about it. :-) As someone just this morning said in a conversation, God made us human be-ings, not human do-ings. We all need balance.

  5. Holly, you make me so proud to be your cousin. I am amazed at how giving, loving, and patient you are. I very much enjoy reading your blog entries and I look forward to reading many more as you become a student again. Religion is something I have only just begun to explore (and need to really put more time into) so it is very interesting to me (living vicariously through you) to have you take this next step for yourself. Have fun, explore, breath!

  6. this is just amazing.

    as a momma of a ten month old that so often begs God for a swift-coming naptime so I can cry in the shower, I hear these words and they sit deeply in my heart. this is amazing and healing. it reminds me that it’s okay to break down and need a break. i’m not a bad mom for needing to breathe.

    visiting from emily’s imperfect prose. so blessed to have been here in your corner.

    • My shower has seen it’s share of tears as well. Hoping you find your opportunities to breathe. Thank you for your sweet comment.

  7. My children are adults with children of their own but I so remember one among several times I wanted to punished my daughter at two for not potty training on my schedule. The very fact you are honest about it…you do not put your need off onto your children or their education but your need for a break. It’s refreshing and will go a long way in helping you be sensitive to your children when you have them. It may not work and I hope you will be able to discern if it doesn’t and not blame them or yourself. It is in no a failure on anyone part. No matter how good the preschool is, you are one they love and crave to be with which is why they may shed some tears at first when you leave them or when they are ill.

    By the way, showers were made to cry in…shed more tears there then anyplace. Usually came out with a fresh outlook and renewed spirit and a super clean body. The tears are from the Lord thanks be to Him He put them in us as a release. Just stay honest…discerning…and most of all loving. Example yourself often and your motives, see if they match up to what God has for you. Raising children is the second hardest work there is, marriage is the first. And if the parents love and respect each other the kids will feel loved. Will check back someday to see how you are doing. This is a good site for Mom’s to share and feel safe…take heart the whining will pass and before you know you will be listening to your Grandchildren whim and being protective of them when their parents want to discipline them. Not that I would ever do that………………

  8. Going back to school changed my life. Being away from my daughter makes me more appreciative of my time with her and creating a new life for myself has helped me feel more like an individual. It’s not easy, and I often wish to go back to being a mom full-time, but I know it isn’t good for any of us. I hope you find a lot of reward in these good, and simultaneously hard, changes.

  9. I love that we have seasons in life. IT’s just right the way He set it up! Thanks for this post.

  10. Beth Ritchie says:

    Holli, you write so beautifully and honestly. You express the feelings that countless mommies have felt and will feel. I think you should follow your heart and you won’t go wrong. I have to admit that when I read that you are going to Seminary I was surprised, but what an Absolute Blessing you will be in ministry! I will keep you all in my prayers as you embark on this new journey. Please keep writing, though, because you truly have a gift! Love, Beth

    • Thank you so much, Beth. How great to connect with you again here recently.

      And, I will also admit, that I still find myself a bit surprised that I’ll be starting seminary, and I’m not exactly sure where it will lead me, but I have faith in the journey. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words.

  11. I soooo have been there! My identical twin boys are 15 now and driving (permits) – I share your thoughts of can’t get enough of the kids and then can’t wait to get away and the guilt that goes with those feelings. I too put my kids in preschool (but my older two I did not). With twins, I too needed that break- and they loved it! – enjoy! it does go fast ; ) …cornelia

  12. Blessings to you. Your words & honesty are much needed today. Having passed the kid-stage long ago; now firmly rooted in the Grandma phase, I listen as my daughter, daughter in laws struggle with this very issue. How to guard their being, while giving all to their young children. Each path is different, each calling individual. I continue to pursue a ‘career’, while knowing my core is committed to my family. They are not exclusive of each other. There is a blend, a merging of the two. I love how you invite us into your wrestling down of ideas, direction, objectives in your life. Keep going girl!!! You are in my prayers.

  13. SEMINARY!!! I am so proud of you!

    • Thank you my friend. I’d tell you that I think you should join me, but I know you are a doing God’s work in the classroom. To borrow a quote I heard recently, I’m quite sure you are a prophet disguised as a teacher. So happy to reconnect with you lately!

  14. Congrats on seminary!
    Those days when my kids were so young- they were long and I needed a break. The PMO program at my youngest’s preschool starts at 9 months and lots of parents take advantage of it.

  15. This is beautiful. Congratulations and best wishes to you and your children as you all start this new adventure.


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