Life without "Our Babies"

It's been about six weeks now since it's really seemed official.

Oh, it's true I took down the shingle for Teachers' Tots Child Care in June, but it didn't seem all that real through the summer since I cared over the years almost exclusively for teachers' children - who got to be home with their mommas during that season anyway. I did sell, donate, and put into storage much of my "baby gear" - it felt nice to re-organize the house in that way - so I wasn't in denial. But the change seemed to really hit home the day after Labor Day, when the current public school year started and "my babies" weren't here.

Truth be told, Leah and Cora did come for a visit that very week when their momma had an appointment.
And we certainly cherished our time with them that day. We also look forward to other opportunities to be with them and their big sister, Anna, even though having occasional visits is a very different reality than opening our home to them every day. So I'm not melancholy because I have confidence in the bond we have with the girls' parents. It's just interesting to note how things are different for us now.

For example, though I always felt great freedom to take Leah and Cora on various outings with us, we had to be mindful of nap schedules and their mom's work schedule, especially after she went part-time two years ago. But now that I don't do childcare, Rachel, Abbie, and I were able to enjoy a leisurely Not-Back-to-School breakfast at IHOP on September 2 and later that day to spend as much time as we wanted at a Not-Back-to-School picnic. I also felt able to schedule a Heritage Hill homeschool field trip the very next day, and when the baking of our Belgian pies took much longer than anticipated, we were able to stay for two extra hours without giving it a second thought.
Similarly, we were able to take a whole day at the end of September to visit my in-laws, who live an hour away. We enjoyed lunch with them at a Chinese restaurant and helped them a bit around the house. Then the girls cooked dinner - an entree of individual chicken pot pies and a coconut cream dessert - and provided some entertainment by playing a few piano pieces. So we didn't leave there until close to eight at night - because we had that freedom. And we're very excited that we can now plan similar trips - to Grandma and Grandpa's and elsewhere - much more readily than we could before.
I've also noticed that - not surprisingly - Rachel and Abbie are able to finish their bookwork earlier than before, even though I've increased my expectations of them in some ways. None of us minded the "interruptions" Leah and Cora added to our days - honestly, we love them so much, we were more than happy to create a routine that worked for them as well as for us - but it's been very obvious that we're now able to be more efficient with our time, giving the girls more time to pursue some of their personal interests.
On the other hand, we've had to be more purposeful in some ways, especially about making sure we get started in a timely manner each morning. When the little girls were coming, their daily 7:45 arrival time prompted us to expedite our morning routines. And the need to meet all four girls' needs created a rather automatic structure to our mornings, revolving around the little ones' eating and sleeping schedules. We've been doing fine - still starting bookwork at 8:30 as we have for a long time - but our early-morning routines have become more relaxed, and we have to be more conscious of making sure we start when we should.

Of course, one other significant change is that I no longer have an income. So, though I was (and remain) certain the Lord did intend for me to close up shop when Leah and Cora's mom quit her job, that has been a bit of an adjustment. Thankfully, my daycare income had become "extra" - a cushion - over the past couple of years. But we've actually had some rather significant home and car repairs over the last six weeks, and I've had to trust it'll all work out.

And it has; God has provided, just as He always does in one way or another. In fact, not doing daycare has given me more time to pursue the homeschool research project the Lord set before me starting in March 2013. So far, that hasn't really produced income, but one of my goals is to leverage things so that it might - just enough so I can be a help to my husband by doing something that can provide a cushion again. I think the details of that will be coming together over the next six months, and that's exciting, too.

Overall, I can say I've felt great peace about this big change. The girls and I do miss the little ones. But I was absolutely convinced last winter when their momma announced her plans to quit her job that quitting mine as well was God's next step for our family. And that sense of "perfect peace" has remained with me ever since. I obviously don't end up in the center of God's will as often as I should - stubborn, willful me goes counter to His wisdom way too much of the time - but I'm glad I took the leap on this thing when it was clear that's what He intended.

So now we enjoy our "new normal" and look forward to continuing to see how our next steps unfold...

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