On the Occasion of your 5th Birthday
You just turned five. You’re FIVE years old. Half a decade. No longer a baby. A full fledged kid. You don’t toddle or struggle for words. You make yourself and your feelings heard. You are loving and empathetic, kind, funny, popular and cheeky. I am honored to know you and am so proud of who you’re becoming. I adore you with all my heart.
People say it goes so fast. The years fly by and one day your child is grown and you wish you could do it all again. You wish you’d spent more time together, not sweated the small stuff, appreciated every minute. I’ve heard that every time I’m at the end of my rope I should try and transport myself to the future and see my life after Loch’s grown. I should take a look in my rearview mirror and see no carseat, no goldfish, no little face. I should imagine hearing no kid music or little voice talking from the backseat and that should give me the perspective to see all the monotonous activities morphing into lovely memories I’ll surely miss. Though I understand this as a noble exercise that could possibly grant me that extra scrap of patience when I’m steps away from losing it, the truth of the matter is I believe true perspective is only really possible in retrospect. We can enjoy the company of our children, appreciate the moments of love and affection, revel in our unconditional love for each other, we can kiss their sweet faces and pray over their little sleeping bodies, but we can’t truly appreciate the passage of time until it’s passed. It’s too much to expect of ourselves and just another thing to feel guilty about when we don’t succeed. You can’t see a forest if you’re tied to a tree and the rope only slackens up as our children age and gradually pull away on their own. It’s only with distance that we can see a bigger picture. Yes, childhood goes fast but in many ways it also goes slow. I stayed home with you. I’ve been with you every day of your life.* I was there when you walked and talked and sang and learned and grew. I committed to your well being, your education, your entertainment. I introduced you to everything from manners to live theatre and all the things in between. I’ve been your constant companion, champion, teacher and friend and I’ve loved almost every minute of it.
Being a parent is by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Being your parent is a gift from God I’m grateful for every day. I know I’ll look back on these baby years with longing but I’m also looking forward to the next step. I know there a lot of working parents who feel guilty they’ve missed some milestones but I don’t find myself in that position. I didn’t miss anything in your life. The things I missed were things that belonged to me. As a parent whichever way you choose you’re going to miss out on something. It’s impossible to do it all, be it all. have it all. Something has to give. If you’re at work you’re missing out on your kids. If you’re with your kids you’re missing out on your work. We do the best we can and live with the guilt however it comes.
I’ve been tired lately. Not of you but of me. I’ve been so caught up in the business of being a parent I find I’m less capable of experiencing the joy of being a parent. I watch your Dad play with you and I get down on myself for not being more like him. As you wrestle or play superheroes or legos I feel I should be able to handle more than an hour (or sometimes 15 minutes) of down-on-the-floor-playing but I can’t. I’d rather be out in the world experiencing something with you, or taking you somewhere, or getting some writing done or folding the damn laundry.
I fight to live in the moment when I have so many other things in my mind. On the flip side your Dad’s time with you is more spuratic, more fleeting. He’s able to give himself over to you completely because your time together is finite. Our time together is more extensive and fluid. We’ve experienced so much together. Played for hours at all ages. You’ve grown up in front of my eyes and I’ve decided not to get down on myself for being excited for the next phase. I’ll always treasure our days together but I look forward to having some time belong to me again. Time to find worth in my work and not just your behavior. Time to explore my own happiness and not just live vicariously through yours. You will always be my top priority, my first and most important job, your happiness will always come before mine, but as you grow, so again shall I.
I’ll miss these days. I’ll miss our time together. The concentrated, one-on-one Mommy/Lochie time. I’ll miss your unbridled affection, your devotion to me, your constant desire to be with me. You recently told me you didn’t want to turn 5. When I asked why you said it’s because 5 year olds have to go to kindergarden and you’d rather stay in preschool. You understood it. You liked it. You weren’t ready to move on. I get it. I have moments when I feel exactly the same, both for your life and mine, but I told you no matter what we do we can’t stop time from marching on. We have birthdays, we get older, we transition to the next phase and the best we can do is appreciate each one as it comes.
I have six months until you start kindergarden. Half a year to truly treasure these last days of your first phase before we start celebrating the beginning of the next. Every part of your life is important, every transition exciting, and even though each step will take you further from my side, each one only solidifies you in my heart. I love getting to know you Lochlan. I love the discovery of who you are and who you might be. I am not afraid of you getting older. I will look back on these days as glorious memories. I’m not sad. I’m excited and proud and I only hope I’m around for the many more phases to come.
Happy 5th Birthday Darling boy!!!
xoxox your mommy
* Every day except nine. Three, weekend trips with your father and one three night trip to NYC when you were two