The fast-forward years
I feel like we’ve officially entered that phase of parenthood that all those well-meaning checkout line commenters have been warming about for the past 8 years or so. It did not, up to this point, “go so fast,” but I’m officially ready to punch that time-clock because yesterday I started to write a date that was at least a week in the rearview, and was genuinely shocked that an additional 7 days of life have transpired since I last looked up.
It’s the end of September. My oldest baby will reach the age of reason on Saturday (and, shockingly, has begun to act sort of … reasonable at times. Makes me clutch my chest in shock and awe).
I just clicked over to Baby Center to look at how big Cinque Bing is at 24 weeks only to find that we’re actually at 26 weeks, which is fairly reassuring since I’m starting to make third-trimesteresque huffs and puffs when I get up off the floor and was getting a little concerned for my stamina.
Now that I know I’m a fortnight out from the dawn of the final countdown, the aggressive and sudden pop of the belly and the insatiable appetite make more sense.
I got my first “any day now!” comment from a friendly barista the other week, to which I smiled vaguely and replied with a sing-songy “not as soon as you might think.” The end of pregnancy is when my 10-inch torso really shines, making strangers and friends alike very, very nervous in workout settings and in crowded public spaces. Why look 9 months pregnant for only a month when you can startle passers-by for an entire trimester? I’m sure that’s what God was thinking when He selected “walking, ticking time bomb of gestation” as my pregnancy model.
Our house is coming together too, more slowly than it might have in the past, but also more carefully and with greater attention to detail. I finished chalk painting my kitchen cabinets last night at about 9 pm (future post forthcoming) and, stepping back to admire my handiwork after I’d hung the last door, I mentally calculated that the entire project had taken some 40-odd hours from prep to finish. Yesterday at around noon, when things were looking grim indeed after a sudden and surprising suburban sandstorm swept along the freshly-lacquered door faces, I was lamenting to a friend that I was actually going to die with this paintbrush in my hand. But fast forward a couple hours and a lot of sweat and choice language later, and the thing was done.
It already feels like we’ve lived in this house forever. The past year of multiple moves and endless showings is fading into the hazy, unreliable annuls of “oh, that’s wasn’t so bad” memory, and I can already picture the bedrooms which are currently kitted out with cribs and bunkbeds strewn with stinky sports jerseys and curling irons.
Even the long days of mothering lots of little people are easing up. I hardly ever have that stiffling feeling of 4 o’clock doom these days, because by the time I look at the clock after school, Dave is only 15 minutes away and I haven’t actually started dinner yet.
It’s getting blurrier. The edges are getting softer and rounder, kind of like me.
Stuff that seemed make-it-or-break-it 6 years ago barely registers as a blip on the radar now. I have less time to fret about vaccine schedules and whether or not milestones are being met, because I’m kind of treading water keeping everyone in clean socks and lunches. The moments that I stop and play a quick game of pickup soccer in the backyard with the first grader or pull the giant baby into my lap for a little quality time with Sandra Boynton are unscripted and unrecorded and, as such, far more enjoyable.
I have to put down my to-do list and a million other nagging tasks in order to acquiesce the preschooler when she comes to me dragging her entire “family” of bedraggled, stuffed cats, begging for them to be carefully swaddled in the muslin blankets I should probably be washing and then rationing for the imminent newborn, but most of the time I laugh and put down my planner or the basket of clothes and wrap the cats.
(If you think you’ve seen something cuter than a 3-year-old pretending to nurse a swaddled Beanie Baby, you’re wrong.)
So, newer moms reading along, wondering if you’re slowly losing your minds (spoiler alert: you are), if the baby is ever going to sleep through the night, if you’re ever going to fit back into your jeans, and whether you’ll someday have more than an hour to yourself in the evenings, I’m standing about a mile down the road from where you are now, waving back at you and cupping my hands around my mouth shouting “the future is now, and it’s pretty awesome.”
And you more seasoned moms? I know I’m kind of in the eye of the storm right now, that this is simply the lull before the oncoming collision of evening activities + hormones + peer relationships + technology woes.
So I’m savoring it, falling dead with exhaustion into bed at 9 pm from the physical pursuits of mothering a 2, 3, 5 and 7-year-old plus baby on board, but relishing the evening shift where they all stay quietly and sweetly in bed for 12 solid hours.
I know these days are numbered, too. So I sit up too late with my Kindle, sipping hot tea or a cocktail and unwinding with a good book and thanking God that they’re all tucked safely under my roof, that my greatest present concerns are heartburn and ear infections and whether or not I remembered to pack everyone’s lunch.
The days are long, but the years are short – and getting shorter. And as time starts to warp into hyper speed, I’m trying to slow down and look into little, quickly-changing faces and memorize button noses and rosebud lips, peering ahead into the not-so-distant future to a time when nobody needs a peanut butter delousing after lunchtime or to be “held like a baby, mommy” after suffering a punishing blow in the playroom.
And I kind of already miss it.
(Must be the hormones.)
YES, YES, YES!!! As a mom of an 18, 17 and 15 year old, you have perfectly captured that wonderful time between having infants and having teenagers. All of the stages are wonderful, but ages 5-12 were my favorite. Enjoy!
This is exactly how I feel right now (except just waiting for that 19 month old to turn 2 and use words!). We are at a point in life where “today was manageable” is a gold star. It is so wild and crazy but they still love being around us too. Thanks for capturing it
It only gets better from here. I have all school-age-but-not-yet-teens and I am loving every minute. We have fun conversations, they can go do things I like to do, they can stay up late without losing their ever-loving minds, we haven’t planned around naps in years…these are the happy, golden years.
I remember those days. When I was expecting #5, I had an 8 yr old, a 7 yr old, a 4 yr old and a 3 yr old. Now my then-8 yr is almost 21 and my then 4 yr old is 6 feet tall and 16. And the one I was expecting? She’s 11 and just started middle school. I really miss having babies and toddlers to cuddle. On the other hand, my children are wonderful company, they make me laugh & I enjoy being with them, and, strangely enough, they still like spending time with me!
I’m a bit further down the road but still long to relish that feeling at night when we are all safely under one roof. With one off in college I’ll have to wait until December. The blossoming of personalities and relationships in those tender years is priceless to behold. Enjoy!
This is just what I needed to read today as I’m in the trenches with a 2 year old and a 2 month old! Lots of crying by all of us everyday, and I’ve been wondering how I’m ever going to make it (but also feeling sad that I’m looking forward to the future when I’m sure I’ll look back and miss this! Hormones!). Thank you for this perspective and God bless you and your family!!
Oh sweetie, I am SO feeling this! My first baby boy is in his LAST year of college this year. He’s a man. And it went by in a flash. My BABY is turning 13 in 2 months. GAH!! I just want it to slow down a bit – I’m trying to savor, but time is flying by.
I am in the same boat currently 20 weeks pregnant and the other kids are 1.5, 4, 6, 8, and 10 years old. I really do think these are the best days of our family life. And time is just flying. I remember thinking the end of the day would never come, and now I just want that clock to slow down.
I have a really modest family with only one baby on board, but it makes me so proud and at the same time so nostalgic when I see every sign of independence. At first we were just looking each other in the eye wih unconditional love and now we still do, but she gets more decisive and rings for freedom every day. I admire you for your passion for life, your strength and how great families you have. Dear author, you look great 🙂 Lots of love PS. This I am not a robot test is killing me- I need at leat 50 attempts to pass 🙁
So true! When our four girls were in that early school age, my husband and I were reduced to tears while reading aloud from These Happy Golden years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (can’t find the book to look it up) where it refers to that time of life and familyhood.
This was so nice. Thanks Jenny. My happiest times of the day these days is having each of my kids tucked under each of my extended limb. The sad part is that with all of us there is no room for hubby in the family bed, he sleeps in a single bed in the other room. Don’t mean to digress, but at some point I’d be super interested in how you transition sleeping patterns/locations with new babies.