My boys, spring of 2010
I started feeling it last December.
I was Christmas shopping online for our four boys. My excitement grew as I continued to come across sites for some of our favorite toys from companies we love. High quality wooden puzzles and games by Melissa and Doug. Books about our beloved Curious George and Corduroy. Super hero costumes. Brightly colored building blocks. These are the toys that make our world go round.
Correction. Made our world go round. Past tense.
Asa and Elias, Christmas 2008
My boys aren’t so much into those kinds of toys any more. On their lists were items like headphones, iTunes gift cards, goalie gloves, and the like. At least our eight year old still wanted Legos. But I started to feel a little bit sad. No more wooden puzzles or superman capes? Well when did that happen?
I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I love this stage of life we’re in – having a houseful of big kids. Raising kids ages 8, 11, 13, and 15 is the rockinest season ever. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to live with teenagers. Now that all the kids can read, all six of us together can have crazy fun playing board games that don’t include a candy cane lane, a hungry hippo, or (praise the Lord) a chute or a ladder. The joy we experience studying God’s word together and having meaningful prayer time? It’s beautiful. And the volume of food we go through? Well, some might be frightened to actually watch the food disappear from our table as quickly as it does, but as long as I don’t think too hard about the grocery bill, I take great pleasure in seeing my boys inhale triple batches of pancakes and two pounds of strawberries in seven minutes flat.
Malachi, spring 2009
But when I look at their baby pictures? When I see a little plastic plate sporting Winnie the Pooh like the one that used to get flung off our high chair? When I come across a size 2-T outfit that all four of the boys wore as it was passed down the line? I find that I suddenly can’t breathe. How is it that instead of having to take a wet washrag to wipe smeared sweet potatoes off of an unwilling chubby baby face, I’m handing over a razor so that very boy can shave his whiskers?
Justus and I, heading out for a date in May, 2012
I now understand what all the other ladies have been telling me for years about how “the days are long but the years are short so enjoying them while they’re young because they grow up so quickly.” I heard that over and over when my four boys were little. I heard it when I had multiple children in diapers. I heard it when we were potty training (the boy with pee running down his leg). I heard it when the three-year old had his fourteenth melt-down in the church foyer. I heard it when I had one kid hanging on my leg, one running in the opposite direction, one screaming to be nursed, and the other one…wait WHERE was the other one??! (Hiding under the table.) I always wanted to say, “Yeah, yeah. Enjoy them while they’re young. I know. I will. I am. Now shut up and help me put these kids into their car seats so I can get home and put them down for their naps.” (Not really, but yeah. Really.)
I grieve and rejoice at the same time that my boys are all now “big.” My oldest will graduate in two years. He’s the one who made me a mother the very first time. I think it happened sometime around yesterday. But actually, somehow, it was more like a decade and a half ago.
Enjoy them while they’re young? I did. I am. I do. I will.
Every short, long day.