Sunday, January 26, 2014

What 5 years feels like

They say the days are long but the years are short. It's hard to focus on the years when you are sleep-deprived, touched out and hanging on by a thread.

They say to cherish every moment and your kids will be grown before you know it. Does that mean I'm supposed to cherish when I'm sitting on the couch nursing a baby while a toddler wreaks havoc in my living room and a preschooler complains of boredom? Do I cherish the messes, the cleaning, the days that are like the song that never ends and Groundhogs day?

It's hard. Feels impossible. This I know.

But I will tell you, there is some perspective that comes when your first and last children have birthdays just days apart. Because history repeats itself. And in my case, history is 5 years ago, but it doesn't feel that way.

5 years ago feels like yesterday.

5 years ago I was largely pregnant with my 3rd baby. We were in the process of moving into a house we just bought with my parents, that required some rehab to be livable. We would be embarking upon a construction project to build a granny flat attached to the house for my parents.

Did I mention I worked almost full-time? While full-time mothering (because whether you work or not, you are still a full time mom) an almost 5-year-old and a 21-month-old.

5 years ago I squeezed my 35-week pregnant body into a kindergarten-sized chair while keeping reign on my toddler, to listen to an orientation about an early-kindergarten program my oldest would be starting the next day. My sweet girl cried the first few days I left her, but loved her time in the classroom.

(can we talk about how short and straight Gracie's hair was?)

(can we talk about how Miss Rose chose to wear this High School Musical shirt for her first day of school...although I'm not sure she'd even seen the movie...and even though she doesn't have a shirt, Lily is currently watching this movie on Netflix all the time.)

Just a few weeks later we moved into our house on a Saturday. Miss Rose turned 5 on Monday and Lily Cate decided she wanted to join the family on Tuesday. Her entrance was delayed until Wednesday. But my oldest and my youngest have birthdays 5 years and 2 days apart.

And last week, history repeated itself. This particular early-Kindergarten program is for kids who will be 5 by March, so Gracie didn't qualify (April birthday). There has been something quite surreal about Lily having the same experiences as Miss Rose, at the same age, but my life and role in motherhood is so different.

I am doing it all over again, exactly 5 years later.

I sat in a classroom (thank you Ms. Gibson for the adult-sized chair) with my soon to be 5-year-old and listened to a similar speech about the program. My other children were in school, so it was just me and the Bug this time.

The next day when we dropped her off for her first day she contemplated crying for a hot second, but set her face and followed her teacher in. Every day after she has run to get in line and although she wants lots of hugs and kisses, she greets school with enthusiasm.

This transition is a bit difficult for me. My oldest is about to be in double digits my youngest is turning 5 and starting school. I have no more babies. And I LOVED my babies. I would love more babies. But I would need to live in a much cheaper state or another country, with a much bigger house and my husband would probably need a lobotomy.

Can I just tell you how fast 5 years goes? It's the blink of an eye.

But I feel like it was just yesterday I was deep in nursing, diapers, potty-training, Cheerios and sippy cups. I miss it. I truly do.

Like all things in life, it is bittersweet. Because I drop off Lilybug and I have 3.5 hours that are my own. I can run or exercise without stopping a DVD 8 times to get snacks, drinks and referee arguments. "Running" into Target truly can take 10 minutes. Because I'm not stopping to let kids browse the dollar section or making quick trips into the restroom.

Yet, when I get home though, it's really quiet. And I'm still getting used to that. I love the quiet of the night when the kiddos are sleeping. But not so much the quiet of the morning when I have no babies and and all my kids are in school.

So to you who is deep in the years of motherhood that are so demanding of your physical energy and your presence, it's hard and you're tired. I was. But you will blink and it will be 5 years from now. So co-sleep one more night. Nurse another month. Don't worry about the ground in Cheerios in the carpet or that you haven't showered or changed your yoga pants in a few days. You are a mom of littles. It comes with the territory.

It's a mess. But it's a beautiful mess. And 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. They do pass quickly.

So hang this sign above your door, or at least in your heart.

And let your life be a beautiful mess. The mess won't always be there. And when you look back, as I have been, it's the beauty and preciousness that stands out. Embrace the day. Embrace the mess. Embrace the beauty.

one of the happiest moments of my life. my three loves.