Last night McKenna started showing me all of her first grade, year end stuff - you know, the backpacks filled with all the wonderful miscellaneous paperwork. Most of the items will have to be thrown away, but she stumbled upon a priceless treasure for me. It was her first grade journal, complete with photos that the teacher added in. The thing for me was that as I looked through these photos and saw her bright smiling face, I also saw the sadness in her eyes. I usually measure the year by the school year, not the actual year, and this school year has been filled with so much sadness. I almost cried as I looked through those photos. I knew she was trying so hard to put up a good front, but I also knew how sad she had been most of the year. The house fire was hard on her. She likes her structure and she was definitely out of her element this year. She was very successful academically so I'm thankful that all of the obstacles didn't bring her down. I know that this only helped to shape her character.
As I was looking through her photos I was thinking about Amanda and Mark. They are both graduating on this year. Amanda to her first year of high school, and Mark onto his first year at the middle school. Their first grade years were also difficult. During Amanda's first grade year, I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant with McKenna. Normally that would not have been a big deal as my first two pregnancies were great. However, McKenna had a different plan. Her pregnancy was by far my hardest and Amanda had to deal with a mom that wasn't really "with it" for nine months. Mark's first grade year was the hardest ever. That was the year that James passed away. Thankfully Mark had the best teacher at the school. She happened to be my teacher for third grade and Amanda also had her for first grade. I remember the week after James died and we were all starting to go back to work and school. I walked in with tears streaming down my face. I felt like I was abandoning my children. She came right out with big hugs and wrapped both Mark and I in her arms and told us how much she loved us and that she would take good care of Mark and call me immediately if I was needed. I know he was in an angels' arms that year.
This mama's heart feels a little sad this evening for the hardships my kids have endured. They have come out stronger, but I hate they have had to go through them. If I put it in perspective they really haven't been through alot. However, they have endured more then I did at their ages. The situations they have been through are ones that I have not had to deal with until adulthood. I do know that they are more compassionate, loving and kind. They are accepting of others and their surroundings. I'm thankful for who they are and know that God has an important plan for each one of them and that their childhood experiences will help shape them for that.
It's getting dark and the kids are coming back in so I'm logging off for now. I know I could write this better, but I'm going to leave it "as is" and go hang out with them.