They say kids grow up fast – that you’ll blink and your kids will be grown. I reflect on that a lot. You may have noticed if you read my other posts. I often stop to reflect on small moments, little wins, times of peace, or love I never want to lose. Writing down those moments helps me savor them, squeeze out all the love, and forge a path of hopefulness to the future they’ll grow into. They are seemingly insignificant moments, but from the inside are your whole world. It goes so fast. I just want to hold on.
I love the small evening break on days my husband picks up the kids. I have a few minutes in the house to myself and some time to step away from work. I turn up the music, cook dinner, clean some dishes, and organize my thoughts, putting my “work brain” on pause and moving into autopilot as I chop, stir, wash, and dry. I hear the garage door go up, and I ready myself. I never know what to expect in those next few minutes.
The baby will want to eat immediately. She may run over to give me a quick hug, or she may just hover at her high chair, arms high, calling “up, up, up?” Eventually, one of us lifts her up, washes her hands, and settles her in her chair.
The toddler is the wild card. Will he come in bouncing, happy, and offer me a hug or a hello? Or will he have lingering anger from something that happened at pickup or the drive home or some other four-year-old reason? We’ve had our share of days where the after-school restraint collapse hits hard.
The days are just growing longer, and the evening sun is just coming in the windows, splashing across the floor as it sinks lower in the sky. I flip on a few lights before the kids come in the house.
Today’s welcome is a good one. I get hugs from both kids, and then the energy of the dinner activities picks up. The music is still on, my toddler is talking 100 miles an hour, the baby is whining for food, and my husband is trying to catch me up on information from the teacher at pickup. My husband and son are washing their hands. I walk to the fridge and get the baby some milk. On my way, I toss a spoon in the dishwasher. I get a cup out for my son. I navigate around everyone and turn off the oven timer. I can hear my son calling to me, but there’s so much going on in the moment I can’t focus on what he’s saying. I put a plate in front of the baby, tune out the music, and the baby’s babbles just for a second, and I look up. I watch my son standing at the sink, washing his hands. He’s ecstatic, and it doesn’t take long to register why. He’s washing his hands, easily, without using the step ladder we drag out every day. He’s tall enough to reach on his own.
My mind flashes back to this morning when I thought his pants seemed a little short. Then I remember I thought the same thing three days earlier with a different pair. He’s grown again, but this time it’s different. He seems older all over. His attitude, his words, his actions. He’s not even close to being the little baby he’s always been in my mind. He’s a boy. In a few months, he’ll be five. I know this isn’t the last time I will feel this way, not in his life, probably not even in this year. He just keeps growing.
I am tucking in my son, and he asks me to climb in his bed when it’s time for me to sing songs. I lay next to him and as we sing I think about him playing with his friends when I had dropped him off that day. There was a weird moment I had, a strange thought crept into my mind and consumed me. One day soon he’ll always be playing with his friends. He’ll be off doing his own thing, and I’ll have to let him. I won’t know all the things they talk about or play or do at school. He won’t ask me to climb in bed or sing songs.
Our kids grow up too fast. I blinked, and our second went from infant to walking. At almost 18 months, she already has down what it takes to be 2 in sass, spunk, and independence. I want to hold onto this age a little longer. Wrap my arms around these days and pull them in tight, squeezing, not letting go.
Time is fleeting. Kids grow up. And we learn to adjust, good and bad. A long time friend of mine just had her first baby. When I asked her how she was doing, she said overall great, some ups and downs. I wanted to encourage her, but I’m also a realist. I let her know that some of it will get easier and better. Some of it just changes. Not better, not worse, just switches out for other fears, worries, excitement, or hopes.
I sit anxiously awaiting what will come next, but enjoying and loving on the stage we’re in now. I breathe a sigh of relief as we sign my son up for another year of preschool and get to forego kindergarten one last time. He will always be my boy, and my daughter will always be our baby. I will let them grow (because honestly, we haven’t found a way to stop them yet) but also because their futures are still wide open, completely before them, and ready for them to take on the world, and I can’t wait to see what they do.