I noticed the sun setting a bit earlier last night. Summer is winding down.
That's how it happens. A split second of awareness kicks off the mental changeover for those of us who are lucky enough to experience four seasons every year. Logically, seasons should change over time, but on an emotional front, it happens in an instant.
The instant I ...
... buy school supplies, close the pool, pack away sundresses, DVR the new lineup, harvest tomatoes, can pears, decorate for Halloween, brine the turkey, wrap Christmas presents, wrestle with snow suits, plan the birthday parties, swap snow boots for rain boots, plan vacation, clear the yard, plant the garden, sign up for camp, pick out bathing suits, hit the farmers market ...
... another school year comes to an end.
Kids move swiftly through their seasons too - newborn, baby, toddler, little kid, preschooler, kindergartner, first grader and then - somewhere down the line - big kid, teenager and undergrad.
Please. Just stop it.
People with big kids warn me and I hate to hear it, but it's true. It goes by so fast. Sure. It takes roughly eighteen years, but it can feel like eighteen months in retrospect.
I remember when my kids were little and it was the best time. I loved it.
My littles are six, four and seventeen months and I would like to temporarily freeze them in this current state. It is undeniably satisfying to see them grow and change and discover new things, but equally painful to watch them lose interest in the things they once loved and leave them behind. In kid terms babyish is synonymous with irrelevant.
My six year-old daughter is on the verge - off to first grade in two weeks. Little sis wants to be like big sis, so four is on an accelerated path with preschool starting in September.
Finally, our littlest is ... well ... not so little. We call him Big Handsome because he is easily mistaken for an adorable three year-old. He's nearly three feet tall and has been walking since eight months old. The insane physical ability of a little kid is tempered by the judgement of a toddler. It's terrifying. And, it's a good thing he's proving to be quite intelligent, or I'd insist he wear a bike helmet most of the day.
My littles are still little, but the infant toys, tubs and teethers are as gone as the intoxicatingly sweet smell of baby. We tend to define squad progress by the first time the oldest does something and the last time the youngest does something.
No wonder middle children feel slighted.
Moving out of diapers is a victory, but you usher an instant change of season the day you put those last few spare diapers in the drawer, give away the little potty, donate the board books, toss the straw cups and ditch the training wheels. It's liberating to rid the house of all that stuff cluttering it up. Still, that clutter deserves the awwww moment you certainly give it when it's time to move on.
And, the clothes.
Kid clothes are daily reminders of growth. They are tied to size and season and when these articles no longer fit or are weather appropriate it can be so hard to give them up. The sight of those shorts or that bathing suit can bring back months of memories in an instant.
Thank you Rubbermaid for building a storage empire on our emotional attachment to baby clothes.
Even with all of the purging I've been doing lately, my littles are still little. As Mommy, I currently occupy the space right beside them, smack dab in the center of the universe. It is an excellent place to be.
This is where my daily commitment, to live in the moment and NOT take my life or my people for granted, comes in handy. Seasons just keep changing and there's nothing I can do to stop it. It's all so fleeting. I fear (and this fear is well-founded) that these little kids will eventually dethrone me from my place of excellence. Hanging out with me will seem babyish and, worse yet, I will become largely irrelevant.
Seriously. Stop it.