I am home with four kids - two girls, two boys - ages 14, 6, 5 and 3 (and when I started this blog, just a little over two years ago, I had an infant, a 2yr old, 3yr old and 12yr old - feels like a lifetime ago, but it wasn't ;-). Until about four or five years ago, I worked in marketing. I have been and done many things - dancer, magazine "multi-tasker", advertising copywriter, gymnastics coach, resort town waitress, grad student, etc. Now my areas of expertise are different and diverse. I am savvy, efficient, patient and earthy (like it or not). I am a better cook, an Ok herb gardener, an impressive artist to my kids, an active and prolific photographer, a childrens' clothing stylist (in my head), a manager of all things "household" and a news enthusiast (from politics to celebrity). I am more cynical though less of a worrier / hypochondriac than I used to be. I am increasingly proud of what I do with kids, family and home, but I do still present myself as a "freelance writer".
And I get this "advice" often. And it is always regarding my kids. Usually, I am struggling with a grocery bag, a screaming toddler and a preschooler who wants gum while I try to have one of these conversations - you know.... one of those, "I know" (but you don't, really - you are IN it - how could you possibly be getting sentimental or weepy over a period in your life that is currently kicking your ass? Yes - the two and / or three or four year old is cute, but... he / she also has a death grip on your hair and your thoughts are solely on how to get all the wild wee ones to the car without incident - NOT on how you should cherish this moment) - OR - "Yes - he's a feisty one. His brother is very different"(and as much as you WANT to hear advice on how kids are different and should be treated as such - and you REALLY do - I mean, I am not being snarky here - it DOES help to hear a "been there / done that" story from an older or more seasoned mother....again... it is the time - I NEED to hear it - I don't have TIME to hear it). Hard to connect - hard to gain PERSPECTIVE when you are in "survival mode" or constantly looking ahead - if I could just get through the dinner hour - if we could just get past the first few weeks of school.... Oh - you know what I mean; we all do it.
Yesterday, as I went about the after school errands with Enzo (as you know, I am trying to steal that elusive one on one time with him because he's the one who had to be a big brother when he was just a toddler and had to go to preschool so early just to get some "Enzo time" away from a wild younger brother, a busy grade schooler and the new baby) - after school pick up, coffee / hot chocolate (his call ;-), groceries, bank, etc. - I DID get the chance to talk a bit to a woman who admired Enzo's longish hair (to me, it looks short - he looks like a schoolboy now - not like my hippie preschooler) - and who admired what a good little helper he was (and I had just been freaking out that he was SIX - soooo old - so big) - and who told me, calmly and quietly this time (no wild toddler - no demanding preschooler) that THIS time in my life does not last long - this time with my sweet six year old is time to cherish because he is still so small - so trusting, dependent and ... yes.... little. We haven't lost time - we still have our Mommy and Enzo time - he still looks to me for everything - he is just beginning to branch out into friends and a proper schoolday and birthday parties and movies and a wee bit of independence. BUT he is still very much my little boy. Why, then, do I constantly try to psych myself out that too much time has passed - that I have let moments go unnoticed or, worse, that my little ones aren't little anymore?
I could worry myself to death with all my "OMG! Last year, Lil was only one - Milo three, Enzo JUST five and Olivia still in middle school; where HAS the time gone (because all that still sounds so young - JUST starting kindergarten - one barely old enough for preschool - another just a baby, really - and one definitely NOT in high school)?!?!" But the truth is.... it IS just one year later - we are still living, growing, learning and enjoying in the same space - the same timeframe - the same loving, crazy, cuddly life. So NOW the teen is officially in high school; I knew that was coming, AND I have been marveling for YEARS at how strong, focused, grownup and self-sufficient she and her friends are. This is truly nothing new - AT ALL. And.... Milo is totally a seasoned preschooler - no more baby there. Do I want the kicking, thrashing three year old who repeatedly kicked the preschool door until they let him out back? Not really. THIS is where we want to be - happy and settled - ready for new adventures. And Enzo is six now. He has wanted to be six for a year now (and, yes, I did get to say, with some relief, to parents last year - "OH NO - Enzo isn't EVEN close to six. Just five - insert smug / "my kids don't grow up" smile here). He told me yesterday that he likes everything about school. Everything. A far cry from my timid guy last year. And is this good? Yes, it is. And Lil - sweet Lil - will be three soon. She still babbles baby talk - she still wears toddler sized clothing and she is not old enough for dance classes on her own or a P3 program (and this IS official - she just doesn't make the cut off, which is fine with me). She is also getting taller, learning to play with others, beginning to pick out her own clothes (note sparkly, sparkly shoes from previous post) and finally understanding the benefits of her own one on one time with Mommy and / or Daddy or big sis, Olivia. All good? Yes. Definitely.
It's funny. On one hand, I would have to agree; time does go quickly. It does seem that the big snow last year JUST happened - I can remember CLEARLY leaving the house for my scheduled c-section with Lil (rainy, warm, dark), for example. On the other hand, it does feel a lifetime ago that Olivia was little or that my Dad was alive and well. Of course, it has only been a few years, and I know it is all in perspective. I mean, when I was 26, I thought I was old - When Lil was around 16 months old, a friend with an infant firmly told her older daughter that my Lil was NOT a baby but a little girl - yet now that her son is around the same age (older, really - closer to two), she calls him, "the baby". Perspective.
Don't let comments like, "They're so big! No more babies!" Or - "High school!" - audible gasp - "Won't be long until she's out of college!" upset you (and I know I'm not alone in this). Um.... no - they're not infants, but they're my babies, and.... it WILL be a long time before she's out of college (close to a decade if we're really counting years). I think we should all live in our moments - our good, our bad, our uncertain - and.... just roll with it all. Your life is your life. And that friend with the infant who wants to continually remind you that you have no little ones??... um - next year, she'll be in the same space - marveling at time and where it has gone - in just one year, she'll realize that. That seasoned mother who wants you to cherish that moment of stress in the grocery store? Listen to her. You don't have to celebrate the tantrum, but... quickly note, when you do make it to the car, that these days are yours - they are your life - it is what you do and what you will remember. It is good and bad - wonderful and trying.
Anyway ... good thing I did have my super special helper with me yesterday... because he likes to stock up on the comfort foods - the soups and treats, and... we need them today since Milo now has "the cough" (fever, hacking... not pretty.... and worries me a bit since he was admitted to the hospital for Croup - in severe respiratory distress last year at this time). Need to take my own advice and accept and cherish today for what it is - rain, coughs and all.