May marks the end of the school year for many. May speaks of a closing season. May hints at summer days to come. May is a month of transition.
In high school, May was the month our yearbooks arrived. I was always on the yearbook staff, and we had the privilege of paging through the books first. We got an early glimpse at the layouts, the photos, the funny and memorable frozen in time from the past year.
I remember spending hours cutting out pictures and copying down quotes for friends. We used it as an excuse to tell people how much we admired them or to jot down favorite memories with them from the year. We would sign with cute sayings like “K.I.T.” – Keep in Touch – or “2 Cute 2 B forgotten.”
This time of year is always bittersweet for me. It’s a month full of celebrations, but also goodbyes. When I was younger it was about saying goodbye to my school friends. I would often be returning home to be with neighborhood friends or during college years I would be starting a new job or internship.
As a mama, it’s different. I have to help navigate these transitions for my kids. They, too, have to say goodbyes to friends and teachers at school. Our whole family has to adjust to more time together and being in each other’s space more. Siblings are forced to remember what it’s like to play together.
Transitions can be tough.
Every summer our family heads to Haiti, where our family feels called to serve and bless and be blessed. We must say goodbye to our California friends and family every year. It’s hard. We shed some tears. Our hearts long for those we love the most. Yet, we have the unique opportunity to return to a place we have built relationships. My girls look forward to their summer days – carefree and unbound by schedules – to jump rope and dig in the dirt with their Haitian friends from the orphanage next to our home.
My challenge to you is to embrace transition. Expect it. Carve out time for yourself and your little ones to adjust. Don’t be surprised if they have some days of irritability or acting out. Plan some down time to reminisce about the past season, the highlights of the school year or that dance class they took.
My girls love photos; I take lots of them. This is another way I help them navigate transitions. We go through photos together on the computer or we make special photo books to help us remember the people and the places that have become meaningful to us. When we travel we take a few of these photo books with us.
I also give my girls blank books. They can use these like a journal to document their new adventures. If they can’t express themselves in words kids can draw pictures. I challenge them to draw or paint one picture a day. I found this helps them when they are missing friends or having a hard time embracing a new place or season.
In our home, transition is the new normal. How about yours?
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS group in Fresno, California. She and her family serve in Haiti each summer with the non-profit Christian Friendship Ministries & The Haitian Bead project.