Have you seen that video swirling around social media lately? I’m not even sure who is responsible for it. I think it’s HulaFrog but because I can never make it through the whole damn thing to find out, I can’t say for sure. It starts with a baby girl in a crib and then, slowly frame by frame, as drippy Apple Movie music plinks away in the background, that baby changes into a tiara wearing toddler, then a precocious kid then a hair-brush singing tween on a bed with her giggly tween girlfriends. That’s where I stop. Every time I stop there because I’m already weeping and I frankly don’t want to see what comes next.
See, I’m living the middle part of that movie and it is glorious and also achingly sad. My babies are 13, 11 and almost 9. The Husband and I have called the last couple years The Golden Years because our kids are practically perfect and I am not even kidding when I say that. Sure, there are still daily dramas and someone is talking back at least once an hour. But, everyone can wipe themselves and make their own lunches which is something I wasn’t quite sure I’d see when they were 6,4 and almost 2. They are hilariously funny singularly and when they gang up on mom or dad in full-on tween mock. Best of all, they can carry on an actual conversations about any number of topics that interest us both. No one needs us every second of the day, but all of them still need us many moments of the day, and that beautiful balance suits us very well as parents. We share the big couch for family television night and our dinner table is full of stories and laughter. We all still choose each other’s company and that is priceless. Our family unit is golden and it makes our hearts nearly burst with joy.
Except when it makes us very, very sad.
The Husband said to me the other night that he read somewhere that this stage of parenting is like being fired slowly from a job you love. I’ve heard that particular metaphor before but it doesn’t really sit right with me. Fired from a job means you stop doing it. I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop feeling the need to do the job of Mother. No, instead, what this feels like now is the Thursday of your vacation week. You’ve had enough time pass to relax into it enough to really enjoy yourself, but you can see the end of the sun-filled, lazy days just over the horizon and try as you might, you can’t keep the slight ache that conjures out of an otherwise warm heart.
We are so aware of how wonderful this time is, that it makes it almost impossible to ignore the fact that this time will pass more quickly than we’d like. The Husband and I, with these three gifts we’ve been given, we’re on the edge of high school and then college and ultimately, if we do our jobs right, we’ll be learning how to live alone again. Sure, there are plenty of years before the last one flies away, but there are also plenty of years between now and when he was born, and that seems like minutes ago to me, so I know already how fast those years they go.
It’s a tale as old as time: parents wishing to turn back the clock. I’m not one of them. I don’t wish to go back to the years of sticky fingers and diaper pails. Instead, I wish I could freeze us here for a while, not forever as that would deprive the world of what I assume will be three forces that it desperately needs. But before they go out and do great things, I sure would like a little more couch time with all three.