first day of school, 2008 (Kinder, preschool, 3rd grade)

When I delivered my 3rd child in May, 2004, just 20 short months after my 2nd child, and a smidge over 4 years after my 1st, I remember doing a lot of calculations.

How much longer until I sleep through the night, after four solid years of nocturnal disruption already under my belt?

How much longer until I am only buying diapers or Pull-ups for 2 kids instead of 3 (my oldest was a slow learner at the overnight bladder control)? For one? For none?

How many years will I have 2 college tuition payments at the same time? (joke’s on you, former self, just wait until the 13 years of private school tuition before that. Bless your heart).

I’ve always been very anxious forward-thinking, so I spent a lot of time in those early baby and toddler years, wondering what it would be like 5, 10, 15 years down the line.

For some reason, when I envisioned the future, I always settled on when the kids were in 7th, 8th and 11th grades, as the benchmark for “future craziness with 3 kids close in age”.

Why these years instead of 6th, 7th and 10th? Or 8th, 9th and 12th?

I don’t know. There’s no good or logical reason. The following year will arguably be more challenging, with college applications for my senior and another child in high school and it’s conceivable that a 13yr old girl will be even moodier than the 12yr old version (albeit hard to believe some days). Last year, my oldest did not have his license, so it probably contained more taxi duty than (knock on wood) this year will bring.

But for the past decade or more of motherhood, I always thought “gosh, just wait until I have a 7th, 8th and 11th grader! That will be crazy.”

And here it is.

During those same years, those years when I would imagine the crazy teenage years, I would have mothers of teenagers wistfully tell me “Don’t blink. It goes by so fast.”

I wanted to punch them in the face.

Because in so many ways, I couldn’t wait to get just a little bit further down the road. My middle child did not sleep through the night until past 3 years old. My middle child.  With the exception of short maternity leaves, I worked full time (not to mention graduate school from 2000-2002, and again in 2007) and was perpetually exhausted, out of shape, and worried about finances. Life just wasn’t a lot of fun. It was work. So. much. work.

Don’t tell me not to blink, lady, I want to NAP IT ALL AWAY.

And now I’m here. The bar that I set in my head, for whatever reason, is here. Now my husband will ask me “Can you imagine bringing Bailey to college?” or “How weird is it going to be with just Lucy in the house for that one year?” or, often in a sing-song voice after he’s done something irksome, “In just six more years, it’s just the two of us. FOREVER.”

To be honest, it’s tempting sometimes. When I open the fridge and find the gallon of milk that I just bought gone again (how does one manchild go through a gallon of milk in 24 hours. HOW?!). When I’m trying (unsuccessfully) to coparent amicably. When I add a teenage boy to our insurance and blanche and wonder how the hell I will add two more drivers in just a couple years. When we are calendaring the next four weeks and find no less than 5 days when we are supposed to be in 3 or 4 places at the exact same time.

Life is still a lot of work. But now my kids are in 7th, 8th and 11th grade.

Perhaps I did not daydream further down the road because, even then, even in my sleep-deprived, overworked, exhausted state, I didn’t want to envision my babies any older. I didn’t want to imagine my oldest applying to colleges. Or a house with only 4 places set at dinner. Or the year with both a high school, and college, graduation.

Don’t blink.




4 responses to “Blink

  1. You know what’s crazy to me? I have one going in 8th and one in 5th. (I had 5 years between first and last. We won’t talk about the one going into 10th.) I love my kids…have enjoyed them over the years…even in the sleep-deprived years. Now because of the man, I have a second going into 5th and a little going into 2nd. I will miss having them here…the fun interactions…watching their little brains mature into bigger more hormone-filled brains…and what I look forward to most? Seeing them fly…partially because the coparenting counterparts make helicopter parenting look like satellite parenting, so I’m PRAYING they are all prepared and ready to spread their wings when it’s time. The other part? I’m ready to move on to greener pastures…literally…in Alaska. Come graduation 2027, we will be on our way…we will be living for *us.* And I can’t wait.

  2. I say that “don’t blink” thing, or a version of it a lot. I’d like to think that I am sensitive enough to not drop that mic when I am with a mom who is clearly exhausted. And I am never intending to shame anyone. I can see how when sleep deprived, worried about finances, when you are questioning everything, that k a “now it all voice” saying “you blink and it is all over” is worthy of a good sucker punch right to the gut.

    But damn is it true. Maybe because I was never able to have children it is easier of me to wax poetic. I never was up every three hours for years on end, though I babysat overnight A LOT (I know its not the same). I never had the burden of the finances. Though I spoiled them rotten with trips all over the world, covered tuition (elementary, HS and college) when money was tight, dropped off the sports equipment mom and dad weren’t sure they could afford or slipped that money for camp in an envelope …I am no hero, but I tried very hard to help my siblings. Also teachers. Also with kids in private schools. I genuinely believe what Hillary said about the village. I just wanted so desperately to feel 1/10th love and adoration I saw my siblings get as parents. Of course I couldn’t. I am not their mama. I am their aunt.

    Auntie to all 8 of them and I kid you not it went by in a whisper! 28-20 is the age range. My babies, all grown. Lives of their own. Needing me a little less each day. Transitioning from mentor to friend. Just last night, I was in LA on business and one of my nephews lives their now. He came and spent the night in my hotel with me. We had one of our famous rooms service parties. Shared some extra dry hard pear cider. And then he fell asleep, head on my shoulder.

    Your three are growing up well. Despite it all and thanks to you and Marc, they are thriving. And they will know the truth one day and be smarter and stronger for it.

    I will try and be more cautious about how and what I say to young mamas with babes. I always want to be sensitive. But I tell you what. One day, in the whirlwind of sporting events, school plays, first crushes, big life decisions, graduations and proms, I blinked. And three weeks ago, the first of my 8 got married.

    Don’t do it! Blinking i snot of the faint of heart!

  3. Blinking is not…not snot! Oy!

  4. I’m in the thick of it with a 1-year-old daughter who doesn’t believe in sleeping longer than 3-hour stints on a good night and a 4-year-old son a short year away from kindergarten. Thank you for this. I needed it.

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