Most days all I really want is a break from the kids.
And then when I get the break handed to me on a silver platter, I am sad and miss them terribly. That is what happens when your heart (aka children) grow, walking around like they are actually becoming little people. The horror! How dare they grow so quickly.
Tonight my oldest son went to a big kid sleepover with his cousin Griffin. He was super excited and not a trace of fear in sight. This makes me happy, that he feels so secure that he knows he can leave for a night, come back next day, enjoy his cousin time, no big deal.
I teased him, loudly fake crying earlier in the day… “BUT RYYYYAANNNNNNNN!? What will I DOOOOO with myself when you are gone?! WHO WILL I ANNOY OR READ A BEDTIME STORY TO?! WHO WILL FIGHT WITH BEN?! WHO WILL I CUDDLE WITH?!”
Ryan laughed, clearly amused. “Mom, you’ll be FINE. Just think of your memories of you and me and then you will be happy. It’s just one night, I’ll be home tomorrow.
I smiled back at him and said, “Yep, you’re right. Mom’s teasin ya, bud. You are going to have such a fun night. Make sure you tell me all about it tomorrow, I can’t wait to hear!” Then Dad shuttled him off to his Aunt Becky’s house for the night, and I returned to work.
Not gonna lie, though. I totally had that uncomfortable, fleeting moment where you realize your kids are growing waaaayyyy faster than you anticipated. Being a mom means you both yearn to see your children grow healthy and change, while also somehow staying your little tater tots. You rightfully wish for mini-breaks to come up for air from the eighteenth Paw Patrol you have watched this week. Yet the minute you get some alone time, you most definitely spend it talking, thinking, or consumed by thoughts of those darn kids.
Whoever said “The days are long but the years are short” described raising children perfectly. Now that my son’s feet are nearing my own shoe size, I see the older boy he is becoming. When he laughs at a sarcastic comment that was previously over his head, I see a glimpse of the young man I will one day be interacting with in a very different way than today. When he struggles with big feelings or expresses sweetness, I see the wonderful partner he will make, and the broken hearts he will likely have to mend before finding his perfect complement. When my six year old son reassures ME, I see the independent, well-adjusted young man that his Dad and I hope that he will one day blossom into. We are so proud of him thus far, struggles and bumbles and all.
Thinking of my littles not being home, not knowing where they are every second of every day, is just unfathomable for me right now. Oh sure, Ryan goes to Kindergarten all day and Ben will start preschool soon. I am fine with those things, though I definitely do not wear mascara on the first day of a big change – ha! The point of raising most kids is to prepare them for an independent, successful future – whatever future they deem is right for themselves, with some guidance peppered in where necessary. Just as we grew and made this transition into adulthood, so will our children. Hell, I moved out at 18 years old with a garbage bag and a know it all attitude that I quickly outgrew as life came at me. However, I was thinking tonight how I am so glad that this time we speak of, is not today.
Time keeps moving, those days of independence are fast approaching. Nothing we do can slow them from coming. If I am being honest, I look forward to a cleaner house and more time for myself, my marriage. I will in no way pretend to treasure every moment of having little kids. Some moments just SUCK. And some moments feel like they drag on forever…. Hello, midnight ear infections anyone? But there are so many freaking wonderful moments that completely overshadow the bad. Big bedtime hugs around the neck. Sweet, sticky toddler hands and smooches. When your son sends you an “I love you Mom, you are beautiful like a star” video from Aunt Becky’s phone at his sleepover. Whether we realize it or not at this point, we will likely never be loved or needed this much again. And in the grand scheme of things, it is such a short time that they are this little, this needing, this all consuming.
Thankfully, my boys are still somewhat this way today. Tomorrow they will shift ever so slightly away from us, but we will not notice. We will go about our normal routines, pay the bills, work, separate the boys from fighting over toys, cook dinner, rotate the laundry. My boys are little yet, I tell myself. As my son packs his own backpack, dresses himself, brushes his teeth, grabs his journal, goes to the bathroom solo, washes his hands, and reassures me that he will be fine overnight – all on his own – I realize. No help from me. I mean, I JUST rocked him to sleep yesterday, you guys.
Ryan and I have a special saying, which is “I love you. NO. MATTER. WHAT.” We say it frequently to each other, but especially when we have let each other down or need some extra reassurance. Tonight I whispered from my much quieter house, “I love you kiddo. No matter what.” More for me, than for him. Thank goodness he is still mine today, just a little bigger. Tomorrow will just have to wait.