“The days are long, but the years are short”
You don’t even want to know how many people have said this to me. It’s funny that with three children, five and under, you would think that people would avoid the chaos & craziness that comes with the sight full of young children and their mom. Instead, the sight of me with three kids hanging on the cart in the grocery store brings smiles, laughter, and lots of tidbits of wisdom from strangers. When people tell me about long days & short years, I often give them a big smile & nod my head with some gracious response. What do you mean “short years”? I only know about long days filled with diapers, laundry, meltdowns, & more. A walk down the street in our double stroller, often carrying three children, causes strangers to stop and say hello & the question “how do you do it?” I just look at them & say “I don’t really know” as I laugh and keep pushing on.
Honestly I don’t think that one even thinks about how to do it. As a busy mom of little children, you just do it. You wake up & don’t even have much time to think about the day. You make breakfast for three little kids, often forgetting to feed yourself. You get all three kids dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, & hopefully shoes on the right feet before quickly throwing on a clean shirt and pair of shorts for yourself before hopping out the door. You get kids to where they need to be. You read endless books & play never-ending games. You are a master at slicing grapes, cutting crusts, and peeling carrots. You know the ins and outs of every playground in your town. You know what restaurants have “kids eat free” nights & what grocery stores give out free cookies. You have mastered how to make dinner, manage laundry, FaceTime with Grandma and Grandpa, & play hide and seek with a baby all at the same time. One day can be awesome full of happy kids & fun times. The next day is exhausting and you count the hours until you can crawl onto the couch with a remote in one hand and a glass of wine in the other hand. Life with young kids is busy, wild, and never dull. Trust me, this is my life. The days can be long. Yes, very long. And some days so long that I can’t even remember which day it is because they all start to feel the same.
But, I am finally learning what these people are telling me. Almost two weeks ago, I kissed my almost six year old on the head and said “Have a great day!” as he walked himself into his first day of full-day kindergarten. And there he went, into the class on his own, showing me that he is truly growing up. Our days together as me with three little kids all day has changed. I have climbed a step in parenthood this month as I am learning to let my oldest son go & grow, away from the familiar surrounding of our house. His day is filled with a wonderful new teacher, lots of new peers, & an opportunity to grow and blossom in the school setting. But I have to admit, it has been tough to let him go. I worry that he won’t know how to find his classroom or have anyone to play with on the playground or ask if he needs help. He was my first baby & even as my oldest child, he will always be one of my babies. He may just be turning six in a couple months, but it is scary to look back on the past few years and ask “Where did the time go?”.
It’s funny that it has taken me five long years to realize that my kids are truly growing up & won’t be little forever. So with this big step, I am reminding myself to “cherish” this just do it stage with little ones. Yes, there will be some things I may not miss. The endless laundry & dishes and the car and house that will never stay clean. But I am going to miss this time. I won’t get to cut dinosaur shaped sandwiches forever. I won’t get to cuddle in my kids’ beds for stories & read Clifford the Big Red Dog for the 10th time that day. I won’t get to have afternoon dance parties, run through the sprinklers in the backyard, or tell silly stories about penguins in the car to keep my little ones awake. So I am finally learning what people mean when they say that the days are long, but the years are short. It’s true. Our kids do grow up & they are even at this moment. These years are the ones to enjoy & cherish. These “little” years are sweet. And these wild and crazy years, I’m realizing, are becoming far too short.