During Mass last week, Cole was being a twerp and I ended up taking him to the cry room. It was filled with toddlers in diapers, digging through snack traps and binkies hitting the floor. In short, it was a cry room... and I realized we didn't belong there anymore. We are at a different phase in our life.
I think many parents go through this and various points in their parenting journey. You wake up one day and realize that you are done with a certain phase in your life- breastfeeding, toddlers, preschool, elementary school. The most noticeable is probably when children go off to college and parents struggle with the empty nest but there are phases before that... and we are in one now.
George is entering his last week of preschool. I am not a "graduations for every little mildstone!" person but this is kinda big for him. I sent a non-verbal, anxious 2 year old to them in the fall of 2010 and received a confident chatterbox in return. The school has worked hard with my little boy. Thankfully, the special needs preschool is attached to the elementary school, so they will see him next year too. But I'm loosing a preschooler and getting an elementary boy in return.
Next year will make the last year I have all four children in one school. Joseph will be in the fifth grade and moving to junior high. It blows my mind. First, how is he old enough? Second, how am I old enough? I'm a bit in awe that he will have been in the same school since kindergarten. As a military brat, I never had that. I wouldn't change my up bringing for the world but there's something to be said for having the same close group of friends for the first 10-11 years of your life.
Diapers are gone. Sippy cups are a thing of the past. Instead we have clets and TKD belt littering the floor, and children who leave cups around the computer. Laundry is filled with towels and stinky gear from baseball, not clothes with spit up. Instead of watching Mickey Mouse, I talk about poltical systems, compare the Greek underworld to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. They drink coffee (or, er, coffee flavored milk) and the whole boy/girl thing is slowly creeping on their radar.
When Joseph and Camille were four (four and two and four and six), Star Wars, Doctor Who and tweeny stuff weren't on their radar. They are the oldest and they set the tone for alot of things including, to a degree, what their siblings are interested in. That's not to say that Cole and George are "too mature" for their ages. It's just that they have older siblings who chat about stuff other four year olds might not know about. (I doubt many of them go into preschool grumping that they "had" to watch Percy Jackson...)
Instead of dealing with nap time and nursing, I have mood swings, hormones, preschool phases, friendship up and downs and summer camp. I also have epic conversations, jokes that aren't about poop, deep thoughts, and homework beyond colors and shapes. Like many things in life, parenting is fluid and ever-changing and the way our family looks is changing too. Yep, there are things I miss about our baby days but I also wouldn't change this parenting phase for anything.