Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
- Henry Miller
Yesterday, Buttercup advised me that she's not going to be replacing Biscuit when her beloved hamster dies. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, this is monumental in our house. We've had hamsters since Buttercup was in kindergarten. The American Girl dolls were packed away this winter; settling in for the long wait for Buttercup's own children.
The army men and the Lincoln logs didn't get unpacked last summer. No rubber band ammunition came out. Army men and Lincoln logs have been a part of our lives for so long and, yet, their time has come. Even the Legos don't come much these days. (I'm thinking as cat chew toys doesn't count, right?) Valiant, too, is packing up favorites...favorite books, favorite toys...just not favorites for this time in his life.
Charming's beloved whales, novels, and drawings have been packed away for two years now. Even his silly dinosaur bank has been saved for sometime in the future.
I have a box in which I've packed away one of my own baby dresses, one of my brother's baby outfits, and a favorite outfit from each of my children's baby years. A few baby blankets and a beloved mobile round out the baby box and the baby years for two generations are tucked away
And just like that, the baby/little kid years are gone from the Nagle5 household.
As I sat there in the kitchen last night, discussing with Buttercup her decision to let Biscuit be her last hamster, I was struck by how much my children have grown up in these past few years. Oh, I knew they were growing up. After all, I'd had a mini breakdown when I sent Charming off to college that first fall. Even then, the progression was clear: Charming, Valiant, and finally Buttercup would all grow up. And yet... How quickly the time has passed between longing for a moment of quiet and wondering where all the play went. Oh, I know to the mother of younger children quiet is a longed for household attribute (if even for a moment) and I'm not saying I wish for a house full of shrieking children. I'm stopping, pausing if you will, to acknowledge the passage of time, the changing of seasons in my children's lives.
When my boys were little, I would receive negative comments regarding the fact that they are (deliberately) five years apart. "Oh, you're going to be back in diapers again!" "Oh, you're going to be housebound again!" "All that baby stuff." These were often quickly followed up with, "That is why I had my babies close together, so I could just get it all over with." As you can imagine, these same people were stunned, when almost three years later we welcomed Buttercup. Yep, more diapers, more home time, more baby stuff...another baby in the house.
Those days are past and we've entered a new phase in our family. Charming graduates from college in less than two weeks and fast on his heels, Valiant is already talking about driving and girls. The boys in the neighborhood are on the move and not content to hang out in the cul de sac anymore. Bikes are de rigueur Buttercup, too, has let me know she's putting away her "little girl" years. The talk is now about which friends wear make-up, wear bras, and are boy-crazy.
This is such an exciting time for my children, but can it be exciting for me, too? Oh, yes! No, I have no more cuddly babies, but my time spent with my neighbor's adorable baby boy has cemented for me the fact that the season for babies of my own is long gone. I am so glad I spread my children out, enjoying each of them in the various "stages" of babyhood, but I am done. I'm loving the time I do things with my children, not just do things for my children. I celebrate as these amazing "former cuddly babies" of mine reach new milestones of their own. I am excited to see them set bars to reach of their own and surprise themselves with what they can do. I encourage them to look forward with enthusiasm. I've done my job well, despite the ups and the downs, and they're amazing people for whom I'm filled with admiration. I like spending time with my children as individuals, not just my children. How cool is that?
As my last baby showed me last night, time is marching on in the Nagle5 household. I want to be part of the parade, but I'll let them choose our route in this uncharted territory.