Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So, 2021, right? The new year is around the corner. Almost here. And usually, I talk about New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m not going to talk about that. This year, I’m going to talk about changes. And next year, there are many changes on our horizon. Let’s start with the easy change: Bug, my little Bugaboo is going to be in first-grade, not pre-school, not kindergarten, real first-grade. It’s official! He must learn to add, to subtract, to read, to write. No more, “I’m just trying.” It’s time. It’s time.
And every year, around March, I make the decision about whether or not I’m going to homeschool the following year. And this year is full of unknowns and uncertainty. One, because I am thinking I am an older mom, next year I will be fifty-five. I don’t have the energy that I used to. Perhaps it would be best if I considered putting Bug in a traditional educational setting—more friends, younger teachers, and more energetic. Hopefully, healthier than mom. And the harder one, next year, in August, the girls will be starting the ninth-grade. All three of them, at the same time—high school.
Just thinking about it, I choke up, and I get this knot, and I can’t even explain the feeling. It’s anxiety, excitement, sadness. Everything rolled into one. The sensation that I’m losing them. And let’s admit it, sometimes the excitement that they’re gonna be gone, and then I would be so exhausted all the time. It’s just conflicting emotions. And right now, I am really being challenged because Dora keeps talking about going back to the traditional school setting; she would like to try high school. She says she thinks she would like that experience, while Emmi and Andy want nothing to do with it. It’s hard. It’s hard to have your kids in two different settings.
So, it’s going to have to be a family decision, not an individual kid’s decision. Where do they go? What do we do? And how are we going to handle it if they are into separate programs? Can we handle it? Or is it time for all of them to go back to a traditional educational setting? Or should they continue homeschooling, which gives them a lot of flexibility and allows them to explore their interests, and allows us to travel?
The answer is, “I don’t know.” And also, to be honest with you, I’m really fighting my husband on the idea of returning to that humongous monstrosity that we call home in the Caribbean. I’ve never liked that house. I’m just putting it out there. That’s the honest to goodness truth. I’ve never liked it. I’ve always thought that it was too big. It was my husband’s dream home, and I caved. I caved. What can I tell you? He looks at me with those blue eyes, and he gives me the, it’s my dream speech, and I caved. He’s so cute. I don’t know what else I can say to you? A woman has her weaknesses, and mine are his blue eyes and his butt.
So, but now, that sucker, that huge dream of his, has five flights of stairs! It doesn’t have an elevator, unlike most of the large homes on the island, and there’s no way for us to put an elevator in. It would be so expensive, and the structure would have to be radically changed, that frankly, it would be easier to sell the house and buy a different home. And that’s what I’m really advocating for— a different home, a smaller home. Not just because I never loved the house but because all those flights of stairs make my life miserable.
My knees cannot take it. If this is the first time you hear the show, you haven’t heard that I had an accident and as a result, both of my knees were seriously damaged, and in a few years, I would need a knee replacement on both knees. And going up and down on stairs is not easy for me. Not that it is immediately painful, but the more I go up and down, the worse the swelling gets, the more painful it becomes, and the less active I can be.
And when you have four kids, you need to be active. You need to be on your toes. You need to get things done. You need to be able to move around. So, I really don’t like that house. It’s just too big. And the other thing was that when we came back to Florida, to our small condo, I realized how much closer the lack of space made us. How much more we were aware of each other. How much more we interacted, and I like that.
And frankly, the idea that in a few years, the girls are going to leave to go off to college (which I’m very excited for), but I don’t wanna be left in a huge house: just me, and daddy, and Bugaboo—lost with a million rooms just kind of going around like a ghost in a mansion. I don’t like that. I want a smaller home. I want something cozy, comfortable. I don’t care how much he throws those baby blues my way or wiggles his butt. I’m sorry—we have to have a smaller home. If for no other reason than my knees, they definitely could not take it.
And I know that this year, we have to go through that transition. We have to figure out what we want to do. And I suppose that brings me to another possibility that if the girls decide they want to go to high school, do we want to return to the Caribbean, where our educational options are limited? Or do we want to stay on the mainland where there’s a lot of options? And if we stay on the mainland, do we want to stay in Florida? Or do we wanna move to Texas, near my brother-in-law and his husband? Or move to Carolina’s, near one of my best friends and my other brother-in-law? There are so many options. So many possibilities this next year.
And, of course, the girls are going to be turning fourteen. Fourteen. Nevermind that this will become their second year as teenagers—forget that. I’m Hispanic. I have one year in which to put together a quinceañera for three girls, all of who have different styles and needs, are all going to want to make different choices, and somehow I have to mishmash everything that they like, put it together, mix it, and come up with something doable, right?
Just taking them dress shopping—I don’t know whether to be excited or to make the sign of the cross, or I just don’t know. I already know there’s going to be tears and laughter and great memories created, but at that moment, when they’re having their tantrums or tears or they’re arguing with one another, it’s not gonna feel that much fun. I know that too.
But hey, not only we are Hispanic, but we are also Americans. The following year after going through all of the quinceañeras, putting the cord together, and going through the party, and etcetera, etcetera, the following year, we’ll have the sweet sixteen. Now that one’s been planned for years, and it’s in the bad, okay. This has always been the sweet sixteen plan: we’re going to rent a room at Disney World, the Animal Kingdom, where the animals walk around and the girls can see the giraffes and so on. Each girl gets to invite two of their friends, and they would spend the whole day at Disney. And sometime during the evening we’ll come together and have dinner and a cake. That’s the plan that we decided on once upon a time, and that’s what we’re sticking to.
But this coming year, it feels like I’m on a downslope, and time it’s picking up speed, it’s going faster and faster. And all these things that seem so far away that I told myself I didn’t have to worry about, it’s time. It’s time to start worrying about it. It’s time to start thinking about these things. It’s time to start putting these things together. It’s time to start making decisions. I don’t feel scared, but it does feel a little overwhelming. It’s a lot to decide, and a lot of it is life-changing.
And, of course, the PSAT is coming. We have been preparing for it, but it’s coming fast. And the thing is that once I have to accept that the PSAT is coming, and it’s here, it’s just a few years, and the SAT or ACT will be at our doorsteps. And then I’ll be packing them off to go to college. Three in one go and that just doesn’t seem fair. It seems like they should be more staggered so that letting go would be easier. You know, maybe one year Emmi could go, the next year Andy, the next year Dora. But no, they’re all the same age, and they’re all leaving at the same time. And it feels like next year is the beginning of them leaving our home behind to make their own lives.
It also feels like next year, it’s the first year that I have to start thinking about retirement. And I’m already retired! But it’s a different kind of retirement. This retirement was an early retirement, and listen, I never really got to retire because I was helping my husband with his business; I was homeschooling; I was starting my own business. It feels like next year, I have to start thinking about my sixties, which are only going to be six years away. I have to start thinking about our future in which the girls don’t live with us—a future with only our little Bugaboo, and I know that it’s going to be completely different.
I’m very grateful for the Shih Tzu’s, the three musketeers—Fluppy, Pudgie, and Fuzzy. Okay. It’s going to help to have them around. Next year, they will be my stress balls, my napping partners. And then when the girls go off to college, they’ll be there to console me when I want to cry. So, next year, definitely a year full of transitions, big decisions, the beginning of a different life, a different world. So much to look forward to. So much excitement is coming our way. I know I’m going to love it, and I know I’m going to be sad.
But I also know that I have you, all those wonderful moms that have gone ahead, have already experienced some of what I’m going to be going through next year. Those wonderful moms that are gonna let me lean on them a little bit as I struggle with these changes. I’m excited to get to know you better, ladies. It’s so much fun having you in the Mamma group.
I guess another big decision is if I do send the girls off to a traditional educational school setting, what am I gonna do with all the time I’m going to have? I mean, you have no idea, homeschooling takes a lot of time out of my day. I am creating a curriculum, preparing, teaching, grading. What am I gonna do with all that newfound time? I think I’m going to feel a little lost. I know I’m going to feel a little lost, but I can’t make my decision based on that. I have to decide based on what is in the best interest of my girls, what they need, and where we can get it.
So, I know—I should bug my husband more. I mean, what are husbands for, right? He’s always saying he needs more time. He wants more time. Maybe I’ll finally have the opportunity to give it to him, and hopefully, I won’t drive him crazy. So, there you go, problem solved. I’ll bug my husband, and I’ll lean a little bit on the Mamma Crew to get me to help me get through next year’s beautiful, chaotic life.
Hey, if next year you’re feeling a little bit like me—conflicted, excited, nervous, be sure to join our Mamma Crew Facebook group. You’re going to find out that there are some great ladies out there ready to embrace you through your challenges and celebrate your joys with you. And if you’re already part of the group, please help me grow our community by sharing a link to our show on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—if you have time, all three! It could make a difference in someone’s life.
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