Over the past five years of parenting I have learned that no matter what, time will always sneak up on you. I learned it first when I was pregnant- each week would drop off into the next, my belly growing and growing, until suddenly- Henry was here. People always seem to say the same things for different occasions- at our wedding I heard things like, "Take a minute to soak it all in, tonight will go by faster than you could ever imagine." And then when we got pregnant it was more of the same- "The days will go by so quickly...one day you'll blink and he'll be 18."
Those first days with a new baby- do you remember those? If you're a parent you know what I mean when I call it the newborn haze. It's all changing and feeding and sleeping and mostly not sleeping and life in one hour, two hour, three hour increments. Slow-feeling when you're in it, but suddenly you look up and your baby is a month old and you're doing that same thing- wondering where the time went.
But the thing is, now our baby is five and kindergarten-bound in the Fall. When Henry was small I would think to myself how lucky I felt, to be able to stay home with him everyday. And those first years flew by of course. Henry and me, me and Henry. Every single day. We ran errands, him cozied up to my chest in the carrier. We drove around listening to music when he wouldn't nap. He sat in the kitchen while I cooked, in the bathroom with me while I got ready. We played on the floor together for hours each morning and afternoon, reading books and stacking blocks. Those days felt so long sometimes, but always in the back of my mind I knew they were short. Too short.
So those years went by and soon he was three. THREE. That age felt so old to me. Henry was a big brother by then, and our days became much busier, filled with Charlie and errands and sometimes just surviving...but something new too- preschool. Our mornings and afternoons became different and suddenly we only had a few together a week, the rest were spent with him at school until 1pm. It was so hard for me at first- I was used to having him with me for everything, every moment, that my heart would always ache a little when I dropped him off on those mornings. I knew it was for the best, but still, it hurt.
The next year our big four-year-old began Pre-K. More time away, more mornings and afternoons spent outside of our home. I remember talking to a girlfriend during this transition, telling her how parenting felt like an exercise in letting go a little more, everyday. And it really did. Henry was growing and changing so much, heading straight into five years old, full steam ahead.
Now our big five year old is at school four days a week. And the other day I looked at our calendar and counted out the Fridays we have during this school year- the one day a week he's home with Charlie and me. There aren't a lot, and recently I thought a lot about how, until he's an adult, every single weekday outside of breaks will be consumed by school.
When I became pregnant and Hank and I decided I would leave my teaching job to stay home, I can still remember thinking that I would have five years. It seemed so short even back then- five years to be with our son every single day, until it came time for all of those days to shift into something else. I was aware of it, I knew the timeframe we were working with, and it is the strangest thing to suddenly be right here, right now.
This feeling isn't something new, and it won't stop here, I know. It's pretty much what you sign up for when you become a parent right? Love and joy and sometimes achey hearts and knots in your stomach. It's such a wide array of emotions, all about the same thing. But here's what I know- I won't ever be able to slow this down. It's here, it's happening, we're in those final months with these final Fridays, and then next year poof! Our boy is gone 5 days a week. But if I've learned anything, I've learned to lean into what we have- to sink into the present, as fleeting as it may be, and soak up every bit of beauty and happiness. So that's what we'll do. We'll take these Fridays and live the fuck out of them, we'll enjoy them to their fullest, and next year when all we've got are the weekends, we'll look back and know we did those five years right.