Appreciating now what I know I'm going to miss then

Firsts can be fun.
First dance, first kiss, first time living away from home, first jobs…
First birthdays, first steps, first words…
First road trip, first time flying, first time seeing the ocean…

Firsts are where you start. They are the stepping stones to all of your nexts. They mark the beginning of something new for you and sometimes the end of something else.

When you are a parent,  you basically measure it all in firsts. First time sleeping through the night, first time climbing out of crib, first bite of real food, first sippy cup, first tooth, first step, first word. For a while, everything is a first.

And then, without you even realizing that it is happening, the firsts aren’t acknowledged quite as much because they start to blend together. After the onslaught of firsts during the first year, you start to notice less individual firsts and start seeing more of the whole. Suddenly you are seeing this little person emerging and while you still catch a first here and there, you find yourself randomly staring at your little one wondering how they got where they are so damn fast.

Something about the way my kids have clobbered me with firsts these past two weeks has seriously tugged at my heart strings. Yes, firsts are awesome, but as a mom who is realizing now more than ever just how fast this parenting journey really does go, I could really use a break from the intense emotions for a second.

There has been so much happy and so many achievements and honest to god…I don’t even know what is going to make me laugh or cry at this point anymore and I’m usually confused by my own reaction to everything.

I expected to cry the first day of school.
It was my first kid’s first day of Kindergarten…why would I not cry?
I spent the morning wondering how it was going to go and pretending not to be nervous (since I was the only one who seemed to be struggling with nerves anyway). I dried my hair and thought about the night 5 years ago that I sat holding my 2 week old baby and started crying uncontrollably because I wanted him to stay little forever and because one day he was going to start school and that the start of school was the start of a chapter of his life that was ultimately going to lead to him graduating high school and going away to college and then getting a job and then getting married and then not needing his mom anymore ever.

He was 2 weeks old. And Kindergarten resembled the beginning of the end as I started at this little person who couldn’t even hold his head up or stay awake while he was eating. I dreaded this day when you could count my kid’s life in days….and it was here.

Shockingly, I held up pretty well as I watched him put on his shoes and grab his backpack and his bus pass and run for the door. I didn’t tear up as he walked ahead of us to the bus stop and I didn’t freak out when the bus never came and we had to toss everyone in the car and haul ass over to the school. I did’t cry as he stood in line with the rest of his class or while he answered questions all on his own about his after school transportation that he was being asked by his teacher. I was doing GREAT. He was doing GREAT. Everything was GREAT.

And then he started walking into school. And he turned around and shot me a smile and gave us a wave. And although I felt my eyes start to burn, I was still holding it together pretty well…until my 2 year old realized that Ben was going into that building without him.
And all hell broke loose.

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The kid could not hold it together. I mean he could not compose himself for anything. He just screamed and cried and asked us over and over and over if Ben would be right back.

Well, that was enough for me. How in the world was I supposed to hold it together when my kid, who I SWEAR was 14 days old like 2.5 seconds ago just started his journey right out of my life and my other kid was brokenhearted over his best friend leaving him?

I don’t know what was making my eyes water more…the fact that Ben was officially a school dude or the fact that the bond between these two brothers was way more than I had previously thought which was really an emotional moment because I had already been completely in love with how strong that bond was.

The kid cried the entire first week of school. The entire first week. There I was, worried that the Kindergartner might struggle and it had not even crossed my mind to think about how rough it was going to be on the kid stuck at home without his brother.

During that first week, I felt more pride than I ever thought possible as I watched Ben handle school like a champ and Blake follow his brother around and randomly hugging him, or offering him his favorite toys, or tackling him to the ground to try and get his attention…

As a parent, I find myself questioning my moves and decisions and parenting motives often, but apparently I have done something right once or twice because oh my god…

As if that whole week of emotional sucker punching wasn’t enough, the hits have just continued to come. Ben no longer needs training wheels, Blake no longer sleeps in a crib, my kids started cleaning up after themselves at dinner.
It’s like they don’t even need me anymore.

Okay, okay. That is a little dramatic, but I have not been able to shake all of these firsts that have been occurring at such a rapid rate lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly proud of every first we have encountered, but with every first that has crossed my path…I have spent a little bit of time craving the last that happened just before it.

I hadn’t even thought about turning Blake’s crib into a toddler bed until I got a text message at work on Friday asking me if Blake had tried to get out of his crib or if my mom walking in to find him scaling the outside of the crib and headed towards his books was a brand new occurence. Seeing as I was instantly terrified that he might try to do that while he was half asleep in the middle of the night and while I was fully asleep and not at all aware of what was going on, there was no choice other than to turn the crib into a toddler bed.

That was all fun and great and adorable until I kissed his forehead and said goodnight and closed the door and realized that a: he was about 5 seconds away from an absolute free for all in that bedroom and b: I was never going to have to reach down to put him in his crib ever again.

Things change so incredibly fast. Kids grow up faster than you ever could even begin to imagine. And while there are days and weeks and sometimes months that seem to drag on forever…lasts are blending in to the humdrum of everyday life just as much as the firsts.

One of these days will be the last day that Blake is infatuated with carrying around produce. It was weird to me at first and sometimes it is irritating to find an orange pepper in the basketball bin and it does get a little costly but it is quirky and cute and it could be over tomorrow.
For all I know, today was the last day that he felt compelled to wear a minion shirt and walk around with an unpeeled banana all day…

Someday, both of my boys won’t be obsessed with trains. They won’t ask me to hop in the car just to go drive over as many railroad tracks as we can find with the hopes of getting stopped by the flashing red lights every single time. Someday, they will get annoyed that we are stopped at a train crossing…and I will wish with all of my might that I could have all of that hat excitement in my back seat for just one more train crossing.

At some point, Ben won’t care if people mess up his construction site that he has meticulously built in his toy room and I’ll actually wish that I could hear him whining that Blake had knocked everything over again.

Someday, I won’t trip over a Caution Wet Floor sign in the bathroom, because my kids will realize that we don’t actually need that sign to know that the floor is wet after someone gets out of the shower and I won’t get frustrated by the cars that are parked EVERYWHERE at all times all throughout my house because they will be too old to care to strategically park Hot Wheels everywhere.

Every single day, they are growing up. And while it is tiring to have to tell Ben that we are not leaving once he falls asleep and that he does not need another drink and that he could not possibly need to go to the bathroom again every single night after he goes to bed…I am rapidly becoming increasingly aware of the fact that one of these nights it will be the last night that he comes out of his room asking for one more story, or one more goodnight kiss, or for us to rub his back to help him fall asleep.

I don’t take my fortunes for granted. I know that I’m lucky to have these boys that I do…all 3 of them. The two little ones and the one grown up one might stress me out to the point that I can’t even call them by the right names half of the time, but I know how lucky I am to have them here to stress me out. Because with every moment of stress comes a million moments of content. And with every single first comes yet another last.

And while I’m so thankful to have experienced so many firsts lately, my extremely grateful heart could use a little break.
So here’s hoping I find a pepper with the basketballs tomorrow and get stopped by 25 trains.

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