The Infamous Fleeting Years of Childhood

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I vividly remember the day my youngest daughter was born. We raced to the hospital as I screamed in agony. We arrived in the middle of the night to a completely silent labor and delivery floor. As the sun rose over the Pittsburgh skyline, our beautiful child quietly entered the world. When she drew her very first breath, in that tiny sliver of sunlight, it took my breath away. It seems like that moment was just yesterday, but childhood is fleeting.  I blinked and somehow my sweet Liliana is celebrating her 5th Birthday.

Childhood

After raising two older kids, I learned that turning five really is a big deal! Major milestones and experiences fill the life of a 5 year old. After they turn 5, children start to make the transition from little kid to big kid. Although their excitement over all these changes is a great thing, it’s a different story for moms. For mothers, it’s just a harsh reminder that our children pass through the stages of childhood so quickly. We’ve officially reached this stage with Lily. All I can think about is freezing time. Visions of Lily as a baby and a toddler fill my mind. I long to return to the days she spent curled up in my arms!

Time is a cruel thief. Thinking about those everyday moments that used to be our norm makes me wish back the simple days. Those moments are just a fond memory now. Lily no longer perches on my shoulder with her tiny body pressed against my cheek.  The tufts of wispy white-blond hair have been replaced with a long side ponytail or braid.  Her giant blue eyes turned greener over the years. That once toothless grin is now a toothy smile that sports one wiggly baby tooth. Gone is that toddler waddle. Instead, she prances around the house with the grace of a ballerina. Misspoken words that we used to laugh over have been replaced with intelligent sentences full of complicated words. Lily is rapidly turning into a big kid. And I’m in complete denial!

Most seasoned moms will advise you to enjoy the moments while kids are young because childhood is fleeting. When I first heard that advice, I secretly laughed over it. First days of school were decades away. Those wise moms, however, were absolutely right. Today Lily turned five. A few weeks later, she will be heading to Kindergarten.  It’s officially time for me to take the first step toward letting her go and my heart is shattering into dozens of pieces. Lily is incredibly excited about turning 5 and going to Kindergarten, but there’s no shame in admitting that I’m just not ready to let her go!

Childhood

I’ve been through this transition twice before, but it’s hitting me harder this time around. Perhaps it’s because the past 5 years went by faster than I ever thought was possible. Maybe it’s because Lily’s baby brother has to go to preschool in the Fall, too. I dread the thought of an empty home. It could be because I know I won’t ever have a baby again. This is officially the end of an incredibly memorable era. But it’s probably because as my children grow life gets busier and time passes by even quicker.

There’s no stopping time, there’s no turning back and I’m being dragged along for the ride. I’m desperately trying to hold onto time in an effort to slow it down, but instead, their childhoods are slipping away through my fingers.  All I want to do is enjoy the sweet innocence of childhood for a bit longer, gather all of my children into the safety of my arms and watch the world pass us by for a change while we remain still.

So many parents wish the baby and toddler years away and I truly don’t understand it. Life was simpler then. Maybe they don’t realize how fleeting those moments are and how soon the time will come when they have to let go? What surprised me most about being a mother is the rapid passing of time. I’m going to be perfectly honest. Life was so much easier when my kids were younger. Our days were filled with playing and cuddling and I miss it so very much.  Right now, life is a never-ending series of errands and appointments and commitments. Most of our days are a constant whirlwind of activity and I would wish back all those simple moments in a heartbeat!

Childhood

Thanks to Lily’s two older siblings, I know that the heartache I feel over watching her grow up so quickly will subside. New everyday moments will become our norm and we will adjust. And in the blink of an eye, a new stage of childhood will replace this one and I will be wishing all of this back!

Although I’m not completely prepared for this stage of childhood with Lily, I will let her go as gracefully as possible. That’s what mothers do. Raising our children to go out into the world on their own is the end result on this parenthood journey. This stage is only the beginning.

Celebrating Lily’s 5th birthday tops our list of important things to do. Once the birthday excitement winds down, we will talk excitedly about her upcoming year in Kindergarten. Putting on a brave face and sharing her excitement is the only thing I will do even if I don’t fully feel it in my heart.

On the first day of school, I will send Lily off with a big hug and watch as my baby girl bravely climbs the giant steps of the school bus. I will hide my tears behind a pair of sunglasses, beam proudly and wave back at her as she waves at me through the window of the bus.  And as the bus turns the corner and disappears from sight, I will let those tears fall freely.

Although it’s tough to leave the past behind, watching my children grow and thrive is an amazing feeling.  Motherhood is an incredible journey and I wouldn’t change a single thing! Childhood may be fleeting, but each and every moment is worth it!

Happy 5th Birthday, baby girl! You are going to rock this world!

Childhood

 

Stefanie can be found blogging about all those fleeting moments of childhood at Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam & Dylan Too.  You can also keep up with her family’s adventures on Instagram and Facebook!

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Stefanie Settlemire
Stefanie is a wife and SAHM to 4 children, living in Mars. Stefanie and her husband refer to their children as Phase One (Dylan-Age 13 and Alexandria-Age 10) and Phase Two (Liliana-Age 6 and Liam-Age 4). Phase Three is out of the question! Stefanie’s family became a family blessed with Down syndrome when her youngest child had a surprise diagnosis after his birth. Although the family’s initial reaction was shock and fear, they quickly learned to embrace this beautiful journey and they now realize what the term “The Lucky Few” really means. Stefanie spends her days wrangling chaos. In addition to four kids, her family has 4 large pet rabbits...the more the merrier! In her spare time she loves to embarrass her children by singing show tunes from her musical theater days, come up with messy projects to keep her children busy, chase her children around with her camera, read, volunteer for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, blog at http://www.lexieloolilyliamdylantoo.com and post daily on Instagram (www.instagram.com/lexieloolilyliamdylantoo). Sleep is just a distant memory!

8 COMMENTS

  1. I so agree my friend!!!! Time is definitely a thief and I am trying so hard everyday to not wish away these years in the midst of fighting a battle with my kids in that moment. The time is so precious and we won’t be able to get it back xoxoxo

  2. All the feels! My daughter is going into Kindergarten next year and I’m already so sad about it. I love watching her grow and learn and I know that time will go by all too fast and I’ll soon be the mom putting on a brave face while her little girl climbs the bus to school and then crying. Hang in there mama!

  3. A beautifully written story we mothers all share. Tears flowed as a read your words. My baby will be entering her senior year of high school. I too am not ready. It’s mixed emotions of happiness seeing my children ready and excited for what’s next and me wishing us all back in time. Holding on before letting go. Rediscovering my role and who I want to be. Enjoy the next phases, even when they push away and all your buttons, because it does go by way too fast!

  4. Ugly crying now Stefanie! This was so beautifully written. Parker is only 18 months old but I already feel the days of cuddling and playing slipping away. Time sure is cruel.

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