And instead, they are big bad upcoming kindergartners now:
And our oldest... I still think of him as a preschooler.
Instead, he's now the oldest of FIVE children and our towering upcoming 2nd grader, at 4'8":
The first days of preschool were shocking to me as well, disbelief that we now were at an age where our children were off to school on their own. Disbelief at how much time had passed. Disbelief at how adorable and grown up our children looked with little backpacks and serious, drawn faces, anxiously excited to find out what preschool was all about.
I know they aren't that big. I know that in the scheme of things, 2nd grade and kindergarten are still baby ages. But, back when our first was a baby and a toddler, school age kids looked so big.
I couldn't wrap my head around how quickly time would go. How quickly things would change from newborn days and around the clock diaper changes and feedings, to toddler ages and stages and tantrums and constantly learning new things (good and bad), to preschool age with those tantrums and new learning experiences (again, good and bad), to school age. Yet here we are. Our oldest is now the gangly older kid on the playground that moms with toddlers glare at. Our twins are now the kindergartners barreling through the toddler playdates. And our toddler is now a big brother himself.
It feels like our family is bursting at the seams, busy and moving and fun and growing. And time rolls faster and faster and faster. Milestones happen without us even noticing and the ages and stages that took a million years with our oldest whirl by with our twins and our toddler and happen in the blink of an eye with baby #5.
I feel like I'm finally realizing just how short these years are. The years that these children are ours 24/7. Where we are the only influences in their lives. Where we are the only people they want to impress. Where we are the end all, be all to them. It is fleeting. And each year grows them more and brings in amazing changes. They are turning in to such wonderful people with wonderful ideas and friends and relationships. Seriously, my heart bursts with pride at the people they are becoming. But I keep thinking about how full our arms are now...
...and how time keeps slipping away from us. Our little guys are becoming bigger guys. Right now when I sit down to feed the baby, I have 4 boys that crowd around to snuggle me and play with baby #5's baby toes as she eats. In a couple of weeks when school starts, our house will be quieter. And the year after that, our toddler will start preschool and it will be even quieter. Our days are getting busier and my lap is getting emptier. For goodness sake, our oldest is nearly as tall as I am.
These years aren't easy. It isn't easy managing a toddler and newborn twins. Or a kindergartner, toddler twins, and a newborn. Or a 1st grader, preschool twins, a toddler, and a newborn. There are days that I want to pull my hair out, that I want to cry, that I look forward to when my days will be a little quieter and Costco trips will be a little easier and when I can drop them off at school and actually get things done. There are days when the packed lunches make me scream, the homework makes me scream, the sick kids make me scream, the laundry, the neediness, the constant fighting, the endless lists of things to buy... My plate is never empty and it rarely feels like I'm making a difference or that I'm appreciated or needed or wanted... But then I think all the way back to the beginning.
All the way back to our first bath with our first baby. To our first pregnancy test. To the babies we've lost. To the babies we've had. Through all the years of parenting we've gone through. Look how far we've come. Look at how quickly it went. In the blink of an eye we handled so many things. We got through so many hard days and sleepless nights, to now. It flew by.
It makes me wish I could go back and do it all over again knowing how fast it would go. I feel like maybe I would be more patient. Maybe I would approach things with an eye on the long game. Maybe I could grasp how quickly 5 years can fly by. In 5 more years we will have a 7th grader, twin 5th graders, a 2nd grader, and a kindergartner. All 5 children in school. Maybe this is what makes parenting so challenging: I have an idea of how I want to parent, but it isn't until later that I can see how I should have been parenting. Or what I would have done differently. Or what truly doesn't matter. All these battles I fought that really didn't mean a thing and all the ages and stages I struggled with that naturally took its course and went away on its own. All the tears I shed over things that didn't matter. How harshly I judged myself and how much I worried and how hard I was on our kids. How I anxiously waited for stages to pass and now I would love to go back and do them all over again. What I wouldn't give to hold each of my kids as babies and toddlers again or to tell my past self, "It's okay," and to enjoy some of those little moments that were so challenging to me then.
But I am who I am and it is what it is. What's done is done. All I can do now is love them to the fullest I can. In 5 years I will be looking back to today wondering where the time went, how my little kids became such big kids.
So this is what parents mean when they say, "Where did the time go?" Because, truly, how does it go so fast?