Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the earth goes around the sun

Tonight as I was tucking the children in to bed, I told them that tomorrow would be the last day that they would ever be four years old. When they wake up on Wednesday, they will be five.

One full hand.

There were mixed emotions about this upcoming birthday. William told me that he was excited to grow up and be a man so he could grow a beard and drink beer. Both girls cried. Carolyn doesn't want to be a giant and Elizabeth wants to be my baby forever. While I held my daughters in my arms, I whispered that they wouldn't ever be giants. But if by some freak chance they were, they would still always be my babies.

But how did it happen that my babies are five years old?

This blog was started when they were 17-months old and they were just entering toddlerhood.

Does it really seem like that much time has passed?

I never realized little people could grow so quickly in five short years.

I'm absolutely certain that I went through these same reflective feelings last year just before their birthday. I'm sure I'll go through this every year.

But aside from their first birthday, this fifth year milestone is hitting me the hardest. Yes, I know the earth goes around the sun and a year passes. But how do they go from newborns to toddlers to preschoolers to ... FIVE ... so darn fast?

Five years from now they'll be TEN. And ten years from now they'll be FIFTEEN. And fifteen years from now, they'll be TWENTY. I'm a whiz at addition. It's the philosophy of all this that brings me to my knees. With each passing year, I see so clearly that the whole adage, "The days are long but the years are short" is painfully true.

These kids are growing up so fast.

Too fast.

Time has never before seemed so short.

Which is why tonight, I prepared dinner with one hand because Henry wanted to be held and I happily obliged, until my left arm went completely numb. And when I put him down and he buried his head in my legs, I rubbed his hair and then scooped him up in my right arm, to hold him some more.

It's the reason that all day today, I intensely cuddled my children by flipping them up and in to my arms and smothering them in kisses until they begged me to stop. It's the reason I snapped off almost 100 pictures while they sat around the table doing something as mundane as eat spaghetti. It's the reason I gave every one two (and the boys three) small helpings of ice cream.

Unlike most nights, tonight I didn't get frustrated that Elizabeth got up from the table ten times to get a napkin. And a spoon. And a fork. And a spoon for her sister. And a spoon for her brother. And look at birds out the window. And climb under the table to pick up the bread that Henry dropped. And the spoons that her siblings dropped. And go potty. Twice.

Tonight, I just reveled in their littleness. Because they are little. They have little arms and little legs and little hands and little feet. And little voices that quite often drive me bat crazy throughout the day, but tonight, those little voices were music. Even when they were screaming that someone touched something about who the heck knows what. Where am I?

Tonight, I kept thinking that five years ago at this very moment, they were still completely dependent upon my body - and now - they are fully capable of getting dressed, putting on their shoes and flushing the toilet. Sure, most days they don't do ANY of those things, but I know that they could if they wanted. And soon enough, I'm sure they will want to do all of those things without any prompting from me. And when that happens, I doubt I'll be able to fling them over my shoulder and smother them in kisses.

How much longer will it be, that I can carry them at all?

Tonight, I didn't care that the house was flipped upside down from their riotous playing. I didn't care that I would have at least an hour of cleaning up before I could go to bed. I didn't even care about the multiple piles of laundry that were generated this afternoon.

Tonight I just sat and reflected over the past five years and I sent up the most heartfelt prayer I have in a long time. It went something like this, "Dear God, I know that you can't slow down time, but in lieu of that, could you please slow me down so that I can enjoy all of these awesome moments that much more?"

Tomorrow, I'll be heading out of town for a few days. I had been really torn about what to do, because my career obligations were pulling me in one direction, while what I perceived to be my family obligations were pulling me in the exact opposite direction. After a lot of genuine reflection, I finally made a decision. While it seemed like a very difficult decision to make at the time, I now see that it was the only decision I could have made.

And well. Now that my introspection has come to an end and I'm looking around at the absolute disaster our children have created and which I am responsible for cleaning up, because otherwise it will grow ten times worse overnight, I'm going to send up another heartfelt prayer for one of these Dr. Seuss contraptions to appear out of thin air.

Mercy these children can make a mess.

Perhaps I need two.



  1. Great post Jen.

    I have a friend that recently left the military after 8 years of dedicated service, including an 18 month stint in Iraq. The transition to civilian life was actually very smooth. He got a job right off the bat that he loved and it allowed his wife to finally stay home with their two kiddos. Not even a year into it, he got laid off. They made the tortuous decision to have him re-enter the military. Which separates them for long stretches of time. Which leaves her a single parent. Which leaves their kiddos fatherless on most days. And leaves them all lonely. I've been rather insensitive to her pleas for help and a listening ear. I just thought, "You guys made the choice to go back. Live with it." I am realizing that sometimes Life leaves you no choice, but the hard choice. My friend made the choice to give his family an income, health insurance, and a steady life in the face of a really bad economy. Yes, they are living the consequences of their choice, but in the end, no matter what choice they were to make, SOMETHING was going to be hard. It's not my job to judge. But as a friend, it IS my job to love unconditionally, support, and encourage. I failed that test up until this past weekend, but I'm glad I get a fresh start.

    I can only hope that others can be more compassionate towards my choice to be a working mother at this point in my life, than I was to my friend. It's the only choice that gives us health insurance and food in our bellies. It might not be a permanent thing, but it's Our Life Now and no matter what, IT'S GOING TO BE HARD.

    You're a good momma Jen. Don't doubt that for a second.

  2. It's true. They do grow up so very fast. My Wondertwins just turned 15 and my little guy is already 9 1/2 months.

    I watch little Jack learn at least one new thing each day and while I celebrate his development and discovery, it's also a little bit heartbreaking. I often pick up my little man and whisper in his ear, "Don't grow up too fast, okay, Boo?"

    I find myself humming "Time in a Bottle" quite often these days.

    By the way, yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving and your post just seemed so very appropriate.

    Happy Birthday to the Amazing Trips, and Happy (Cdn) Thanksgiving to you all.

  3. I know. Mine are 5.5 and going on playdates by themselves. It's like I have these big kids.

    But I am loving this age so much, I cannot even tell you. I LOVE this stage.

  4. You're so right. I was feeling the same way about my twins last night. Sometimes life can make me so busy that I don't really stop and appreciate them for who they are right now. I feel guilty for not spending enough time w/them when I do things on my To Do list and I feel guilty when I do spend time w/them and leave my To Do list alone.

    Happy Birthday to your three miracles. And, even though you don't feel it all the time, you do appreciate the little things. We read about them all the time on here. Keep up the amazing work. :)

  5. Happy 5th Birthday! it is hard for the babies to grow up, mine is only turning 3 soon and still I wonder where the time went how is she not a litle toddler anymore, and where did this attitude come from. I need to comment more but I do love your blog its so honest and down to earth, have a great day with your birthday bunch!

  6. I thought the EXACT same thing when my oldest turned 5 (then she'll be 10, 15, ugh).....And now, my baby is 5-1/2. How did this happen?

  7. Happy Birthday from Noni---What a pleasure you all are to me and a wonderful gift. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is such fun watching you grow and swim thru life.
    NONI and Jimbo

  8. Being good at math is a bad thing when it comes to parenthood. My oldest turned 13 this summer, and I realized that if she gets married at 25 like I did, she's more than half way there. You can drive yourself crazy with numbers!
    That is also the reason that my five-year-old is still my baby. When my first two came along less than a year apart, I remembering thinking I'd never get to watch TV again without someone on my lap. Now my youngest only wants to sit on my lap about a third of the time, and I fearfully await the day that I have no one to sit and watch tv with.

  9. P.S. -- if you find a manufacturer of one of those machines, please let us all know. The world would be a better place if someone would just go and DEVELOP all of the wonderful ideas that Dr. Seuss had.

  10. Um. Your readers obviously weren't on the other end of the phone line listening to you last night while you were cooking dinner.

    "Elizabeth. Gracie. What are you doing? Eating animal crackers before dinner?"

    "Uh Henry. No! Henry! No! Don't do that!? Yugh. He's pushing his truck around the rim of the toilet bowl again."

    "Oh! Wait a minute! Henry don't take off your clothes. Charlie? Charlie? Where are you? Are you in the garage? Are you hiding? Drinking a Beer?"

    "William. Dear. I don't see any blood. I really don't think it's that bad. Oh! Now I see it. I'll call you later, Margaret. I gotta go." ;-)

    Your a great Mother Jen. Although it has gone by very fast - I still remember the day you called me to tell you were expecting! I was in the grocery store - and everyone in the store knew the news by the time we got off the phone! We all ending up screaming for joy.

    I'm so glad your letting us watch them grow. By the way - the lot next door is still available. Charlie can have a glass of wine or a beer with Reiner on the back deck while they watch the kids in the back yard. :-)

    Enjoy your day! Love, Marg

  11. Hope you all had a wonderful Birthday today : )
    Really enjoyed your post, as usual.
    And the pictures too : )

    Time does just fly by . . . .

  12. Happy 5th Birthday to William, Elizabeth, and Carolyn!

  13. Happy Birthday William, Elizabeth and Caroline.

    (Carolyn's Boards)

  14. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your amazing trips!!

  15. happy birthday to thede lovely kids . May God bless you with joy and health through out the new year.
    It is a pleasure for me to watch you growing up !!!

  16. Love this post. I feel I can relate to you so much. June 1st 2009 my "babies" turned 5. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I cried! Sounds weird I know but time is flying by so fast. I love my kids more and more and more every single day. Motherhood is awesome! Congrats on 5 years and truly enjoy this birthday with them. Life is short..and it just keeps getting shorter everyday!
    God Bless!

  17. No kidding how fast time goes. We were just talking about the MTM Luau when we met you and you were hugely pregnant and mine were only in pre-school. Now, my three are heading for 10, in 4th grade, using deoderant and zit cream(!) and getting braces soon. I always remember your kids birthday because today (10/14) my mom would have been 80, my Mom Jeanne. Weird coincidences. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  18. Best wish to these special children that I just love to follow , God bless you ever!!


  19. Awe, Anivililuk Talimat Tuutin!

    (Happy 5th birthday in Eskimo)

    My "baby" is 6, and I totally need a new one to replace her.

    (P.S. today, in our work email, of a billion dollar company, the Vice President emailed and said the following, "Good morning everyone, I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. There are gallon sized ziplocks in the chest freezer downstairs with all your names on them. The Chairman of the Board has brought us all Black Muktuk (Bowhead whale - google it). Please sign the card thanking him." I LOVE Alaska!)

  20. Noni is so right, what a pleasure you and Charlie has been to Uncle Bill and me. The children are such an extra bonus for the two of us, thank you for all the sharing you have done with them over the past five years. You are such good parents, keep kissing and touching your babies, they are truly so loveable. Happy birthday Gracie, Elizabeth and Will, your so lucky to have parents like you have,the time you spend will always be quality time, just love each other and the kids will take care of themselves. Henry, I love you too.

  21. If you thnk 5 is an awe inspiring number wait "til they're 30!!! Truly, it boggles the mind just how fast time passes.