It's too late – there's no going back now. Somehow, Stuart and I (who are young, vibrant, and care-free) are the parents of these growing humans. People tell you this will happen and you regard them as “not with it” or “old”.
“That'll never happen to us.” we obnoxiously said back, not realizing what a difference the years will make in the life of our children. When they were young, cradled in the safety of my arm and nestled into my breast, waiting on their every whim, it seemed an eternity stood between me and independently minded and bodily-able children. It feels, during those long days, as if the ability to wipe one's behind would never actually come and I'd will be nursing and tending and wiping all of my days.
“Oh what we wouldn't give for a night's sleep!” we'd say.
“Oh how nice would it be to have a warm dinner!” we'd say.
“Oh what I wouldn't give for a child who can put themselves to bed!” we'd say.
Now this is where we are.
Now we are here in this world where children feed animals, wash dishes, inteligently contribute to conversation (and non-intelligently contribute to conversation too), help us prepare the house for guests, and teach themselves math lessons. We are now in a world in a world where the children are rapidly, at warp-speed, growing into wonderful little forms of their individual selves. Selves that are independent, but not autonomous, from our family unit. We are seeing the development of these wonderful little people. No longer my nursing babes and needy toddlers, here they are.
Georgia is our resident dish washer. No one break the news to her that $2 a day is far below the minimum wage in Washington State, please. When she first began washing the dishes, she was quite terrible at it. Wasting water, soap, and with a low view of what “clean” actually meant. A few of the dishes I was a bit extra hard on actually have brought her to tears on occasion. But now, all these months in, she has developed a technique, skill, and system that is all her own. One she is proud of and pushes forward when anyone else dare to challenge the sink full. Of all our children, perhaps Georgia is the most independently minded – though, that may be in part to her being the oldest.
She challenges and questions more than any of the other children, but as a result, her mind is sturdy and filled.
She has also decided to become a Latin scholar apparently (lest I think my children will naturally become spitting images of their father and I).
The boys, William and Owen, are the resident feeders. Whether the snow falls or the sun shines, they head out each morning before breakfast to account for animal duties.
I remember being distantly told that I would love when they got to the stage of being able to help on the farm.
“That will never happen” I snorted back, obviously wanting to lick my motherhood-wounds of having 4 babies in 5 years. But it did. Of course it did. Time has a way of simultaneously creeping by and catapulting us forward. How can both be true at the same time?
Yet somehow it is. The days are long and the years are short.
The boys are not big yet but are still capable of driving tractors and ATVS loaded with hay and buckets of chicken grain. They can open fences, herd in rogue sheep, manage the roosters, and make way for the horned dairy cow. I delight in watching them work as they adapt their little bodies to big tasks (such as finding a hole in the fence to crawl through versus crawl over).
The boys are polite, but wild – as homeschool farm boys tend to be. They can make friends with anyone and often are keen to find new foreman in the surrounding orchards to ask questions and share cool rocks or sticks with. They can be absolutely dumb on occasion but their high-water pants, dirty hands, love for bugs, and pockets filled with treasures still makes my heart beam.
I'm on the cusp of that changing. I can feel it. Owen is ever so slowly slipping from boyhood and I fear for my mother's heart on the day when that is undeniable. There were times when we could never leave Owen's side – not for a moment. If we went to church, to a friends for supper, to a store… one parent was always on “Owen duty” and one parent had the other 3.
Now, he often adventures off alone to find treasures and seek new boundaries. I'm glad that for now, the treasures are bits of dried tree sap and the boundaries are the neighborhood orchards.
I'm told “Sir William” looks just like Stuart did as a boy, though since that's way before my time as his wife, I'll have to just take his family's word for it.
Just yesterday, William asked me how short of a man I thought he would grow into. Though I come from fairly tall Scandinavian stock, neither Stuart or I are tall people.
“You'll be as tall as the Lord created you to be!” I encouraged him.
… which was less than a satisfactory answer for an eight year old who is now slightly shorter than his younger sister. He insisted that I feed him more protein so that he could force his body into a growth spurt, which made me chuckle. It's one of the great comforts of believing whole-heartedly in God's sovereignty, really, being able to encourage our children that they're fearfully and wonderfully made. I find a lot of security in knowing that each of my children: their tendencies, their personalities, their eye shape, their fingernails, and yes, even their height… all have been orchestrated, created, and held together by God's will and purpose.
“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”
The great potter has formed my children. Each part of them.
Two years ago, I watched a close friend of mine sit and hold her five year old daughter for over a month. Her daughter was home on hospice and destined to die from cancer in just a few short weeks time. One doesn't witness a mother love like that – unrelenting, unquenchable, unwavering – and come away the same person. One quickly realizes that as it pains a mother's heart to watch her children grow, we should count it all great joy that they are given the gift of growing.
I've become much more physical with my children since that time. It just so happens that our youngest is easily filled by snuggles and physical comforts. In many ways, we needed each other during Danica's passing. She was trying to understand why her friend was dying and I was wrestling with God to try and make sense of the same. We held each other – and we still do. I'm grateful I still have one very eager to squirrel away in bed with me on Saturday mornings, smother my face in kisses, and let me brush her hair.
I know what my dear friend would give to do the same with her daughter. I cannot afford to waste a moment of it.
I used to cringe when older folks would tell me to savor every moment because of how fast it goes. At the time, it seemed so incredibly unhelpful to a burnt-at-both-ends Mom of young children. But now, I realize (I think) why they said it.
Because if you're angry…
… burnt out….
… time passes regardless. At the same pace, at the same time, every day. For each of us, it continues to flow and sweeps us along downstream. Over time, we progress further from where we began.
A beautiful, and awkward, and wonderful time of in between.
This is absolutely beautiful. Truly. My oldest went to college this last Fall and we have been in shock that the time actually came. What I wouldn’t give for one more day making slingshots in the backyard. One more day making forts out of sheets and blankets. But the now is pretty good too: making all his favorite foods when he comes home, mountain biking together, hiking and traveling. It’s fun when you realize your children have become friends and you truly and ridiculously love their company. ♥️
Amy, you took the words right out of my mouth!! That’s the complete truth! When my child went off to college, all the memories from when he was a baby to the present just flooded my head. We now have a wonderful friendship and just like you said: “you truly and ridiculously love their company”.
My first is 8 months old and I wonder how long it will be until he doesn’t wake up 4+ times a night, if it will ever end. I know that time is coming and then I’ll probably want those night time cuddles back. Beautiful post. The days and years will continue to go on as normal and I can choose my attitude in each moment.
My four are the exact same ages and sexes as yours except that our 6 year old is a boy. It has been humbling to watch the oldest gracefully grow into a young woman surrounded by a pack of boys. It has caught me off guard to watch the irresponsible oldest boy learn to control his impulses and be trusted with a man’s job and freedom…the younger two are still growing out of “little-childhood” and I have been so thankful that they have someone to play “lost wolves” or “orphaned explorers” with. God is so very good and gracious in how He arranges our families. And I am so thankful for the time that homeschooling and a farm give to nurture those family relationships in the middle of the messy beauty. Thanks for the reminder to go tell my kids what I appreciate about them and hand out hugs!
Oh my heart ❤️ I have. 3.5 year old, and one on the way, and I’m a weepy mess as I read your words. Babies sure don’t keep, but I am not sure I’d want them too anyway. I love the growth and while it’s painful to see at times, your heart here has shown us to allow the Lord to work in us and through us however he wants. The perspective a you have is so encouraging to my heart. Thank you
When we had our first child, I expected more to come quickly and was happy to put every milestone behind us. Until she turned 3, and still no more babies. I cried on her birthday, and then on her next birthday, and then the next birthday when I realized that we may not have any more five year old birthdays. Every milestone was almost heartbreaking.
God was good to us, and we’re expecting our second child this summer. There will be about a six year age gap, but the experience of having an only child has made this second pregnancy so precious. I will not be in a hurry this time around.
Yes! Cherish those moments. My husband and I married young and our three kiddos are now 30 (and married, 28, and 24. I cannot believe I have a 30 year old daughter! I swear I was only 30 last year!
Wow, could not have come at a better time for me personally, Shaye. Thank you so much for the reminder that God is the potter.
Bless you and your beautiful family!
I can FEEL what you’re saying. The older they get, the furrrrther stretched our hearts get. What precious children. ❤️
You’re words transcend me into a different time. A time I wish I grew up in that we try to still make relevant today. This message is painful and beautiful, causing joy and sorrow. Our babies are growing and the time is passing. How I wish it could slow down.
So beautiful. All knowing tears are running down my cheeks…
I have been reading your blog for what i thought was only a few years but is obviously much longer. My children are similar ages and I really enjoyed this post.
I had my twins at 38. My family lives 5 states away so we were on our own with our little ones. The brain fog of sleep deprivation, to snuggles during bedtime stories, many forts made of sheets in the basement, have morphed into learning to drive, first fender bender, buying a prom dress on her own, and for my son–finally making the varsity soccer team after a lot of hard work, having his first girlfriend—it just goes by SO FAST!! I loved your post. They are on their way to being unique individuals and the tough part is letting them go.
12, 10 and 21 months here! Feeling all these things your wrote about with an 10 and 8 year old when our world got rocked! Still days feel shaky balancing toddler with near teen, but I know how fast they will be 10, 18 and 20!