Pencil shavings and dried play-dough.

brotherly love.

You run up and down the stairs a million times a day. I ask you to slow down so that you don’t slip and fall.

“I will, Mom.” he says, while continuing to go at lightening speed.

You get home on Sundays, and you run up to your room, putting your things away and settling in for your time with us.

“What are we going to do today?” She asks the same question…asked? No, let’s be honest, more often than not it’s texted, week after week before she gets home. You’ve always wanted to be in the know, always needing to be up-to-date on the plan, not wanting to be uninformed.

“MAMA!” he squeals every time I walk down the stairs. Although your speech is still developing — new words and phrases emerging every day — you certainly get your point across.

As we go through the motions of any given day, I sometimes find myself trying to catch my breath. How is it possible that my youngest is a full-on toddler, turning two in a few days? Or where did the years go that J is zooming around the block on his bike — no training wheels and on his own, seeking more and more independence? And where is the tiny little girl who I’ve been honored to be a part of her life since she was 7 months old…who used to call me “Chee-sa” and would toddle over to me with books and toys?

best big sister award.

At the end of the day, when the house is quiet — hugs and kisses have been given, stories read and lullabies sung — it’s hard not to acknowledge that this will someday come to an end. Each night, the toys strewn across our living room illustrate the fast pace that L lives: constantly exploring, climbing, and challenging his way of life. We sweep up the pencil shavings and dried play-dough that highlight the balance between homework and playtime that J endures every day. And we fold the laundry of a teen — small clothes replaced with that of a young woman who no longer needs us to fold her clothes, and yet we do.

How did I end up here? I miss the past and some days I wish away the present. Sometimes, the days seem to last so long that I am counting down until bedtime. But, the moment we are left in the quiet, I miss the noise. I miss the chaos. It is bittersweet.

I think that is what parenting is. This constant internal battle between trying to soak up all of the individual moments, to hold onto every memory, while simultaneously just trying to survive it all. And here I am. Somewhere in that middle place: trying to enjoy it but desperately just wanting to sleep.

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