kicking catToday Isabel had her little preschool Thanksgiving luncheon complete with Indian headdress, face paint and the self-appointed Wampanoag name “Kicking Cat.” The gathering was in the church hall with the wee little preschoolers up on a stage while the parents and grandparents and smartphones watched in rapt delight.

I had so many thoughts swirling around as I sat there, taking it in from what seemed like a million miles away. My girl amongst her peers, belting out her performance and growing up before my misty eyes. Precious songs about gratitude and just like last year, when she sang the same songs as a turkey instead of an Indian, I blinked my way through. Tears of joy, tears of disbelief.

This is Isabel’s last year of preschool and I was reflecting, as I sat there pretending not to cry, the contrast between my experience today and way back when Ethan was at this stage. How funny, I realized, to be able to sit and think and just soak up this moment. To watch my child and be present.

When Ethan had his final preschool performance, I had three other little boys there with me. Three boys younger than my five-year-old and while I tried to listen, I was also chasing a toddler and holding a baby (three-year-old Elliott, as I recall, was always really good about staying close). It was hard for me. I learned my limits early on and public gatherings without a fence (or a taser) were not my favorite.

Those were my early experiences of motherhood, just a wall of energy and motion always barreling toward me. It was constant, intense and things like a preschool sing-a-along weren’t about introspection and delight; they were about survival. Life was hard. It just…was.

It was sweet too and everything that goes along with babies and small children. So much wonder and innocence and just trying to make it through the day.

Today, I could sit. And listen. And cry, just a little. And feel a depth of gratitude that I won’t lie is hard to feel when life is all about keeping your nostrils a millimeter above water. One. Millimeter. That’s where I lived. Maybe not, maybe it wasn’t that hard, but some days, oh yes, yes it was.

Christmas Balducci

I remember this season clearly because it’s when life started feeling a tad easier. Also, this is the greatest Christmas card photo I’ve ever sent.

I love to use the word Seasons and my friend Danielle, who is on The Gist with me, her husband thinks we should start some kind of drinking game because we use the word Seasons a lot. But isn’t that just what motherhood is? So many seasons, all of them wonderful in their own unique way and we just need to appreciate them for what they are, acknowledge the challenges and find the goodness in them.

Tiny babies, so sweet. Growing toddlers, clever and precious. Lumbering teenage sons, I am in awe that these boys are mine. So many beautiful moments. God is so kind.

Today, for me, as I sat and soaked up this moment, I recognized that I’m on the brink of a new season. My baby is getting bigger, there are no small children to chase. And I’m not saying that with sadness, but with a nod, I’m acknowledging this moment. This is where I am and you know what? I’m called to rejoice! Just like I rejoiced (with some white knuckles) in the season of lots of babies, I rejoice now. What a beautiful, different time I’m in. And there is plenty to love about it.

I had something strange happen today. I’ve been so very excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas and I could stand in the candle section of TJ Maxx all day long inhaling the different pumpkin spice varieties. The sounds and smells of this season are incredible. And tonight, I was sitting in a chair watching a movie (never happens, a crazy rare treat) and out of the blue I had this insane overwhelming urge to smell…basil. And suddenly I wanted a caprese salad and for about ten seconds I was just overwrought with the distance of summer, how very far away it felt in that brief moment. I was focused on the scents of summertime and a desire for hot weather and unrelenting sunlight and felt an immediate dissatisfaction with everything that had, until that very moment, been making me so happy and content. Christmastime suddenly felt cold and barren instead of cheery and bright.

And I had to say to myself, “SELF! Get a grip! It’s November, Advent is around the corner! Summer will be here again, but let’s not focus on that.” And then, I was back to being happy. There I was again, with the Christmas movie playing on the Hallmark channel and the smells of my Yankee candle in the kitchen.

This moment. The present. This is where I’m at. It’s where we have to be. And when you move out of one season into the next, you thank God for it all.

In the struggles (we all have them) and the glory (we have that too).

Thank You. Merci. Gratzie. As Isabel sang today, giving thanks Oh Lord, for it all.


  1. My baby turned 10 on Sunday. I’m really focusing on soaking up the moments with him – my “last”. And I know what you mean about teenage boys – I’m watching all mine grow and turn into these awesome men and I have to say I’m really loving the teenage years with boys in a way I never thought I would.

  2. I just found your blog and I wanted to say thank you for deciding to continue to write. My youngest is also in her last year of preschool and my oldest(of eight) is 22. I hear so many women expressing relief when their children leave home, but I miss my oldest 3, very much! A lot is out there these days, to encourage the mommies with small children, and rightly so. But even as I offer support to these women in my community, I long for some encouragement myself. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the present “season”. 🙂

  3. Oh, this made me sad! I know that was really not the point. My oldest is in kindergarten and I feel like I’m missing so much of her school experience chasing littles around. We went to a pancake dinner at school tonight and, yikes, one adult and four kids 5 and under is…a lot. (One of them isn’t even mine! My 2yo niece is staying at our house this week.)

  4. So beautiful! Thank you for the inspiration for those of us in the season of babies and running away toddlers:)

  5. Having urges? Maybe she is not your last baby!?! 🙂


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