I came across the word “lustrum” today – It means “a period of 5 years.” There is more to it of course – ancient Roman’s preforming a census followed by purification rituals every 5 years and the word over time morphing into some literary term etc etc. But today I was reflecting on how I could capture the past five years and it felt like it needed a term that gave some poetic justice to this span of time. Five year milestones are often recognized. Work might give you a pin. You and your partner might drink a special bottle of wine. Five years is a chunk of time that often leads to reflection.
Tomorrow my son turns 5. Lustrum.
Some months ago I wrote a post about my emotional struggle watching my baby become a boy. In my post I wondered about the last time I would pick up my lanky 4 year old up. This week my almost 5 year old boy with the long legs who continues to get more uncomfortable to carry reached up to me, “carry me!” It’s not uncommon for me to go a week without lifting him these days and my gut response came quickly. I scowled a bit. My first thought was to tell him “You are too big to be carrying.” Holding him would slow me down and I felt rushed in that moment. And then I stopped myself. My own words hit me hard against the back of the head. “It’s coming faster now… He’s starting Kindergarten soon. He’s moving on to a school full of bigger and older children. He will see other kid’s tease each other about their mother’s affection. He will see children shrug off good-bye kisses. He will stop wanting to shout out his love to you. He will stop asking you to be his girlfriend. He will not want you to swing hand in hand with you. Erin..Pick him up. Erin, Slow down.” The irony of it stings, that my reaction would be to deny him that childhood act that I lament the pending end of. I stopped my “no” before it could leave my lips and I scooped him up. He put his head on my shoulder and it was perfect.
Tomorrow my son turns 5 and I am devastated. Tomorrow my son turns 5 and I am elated. The normal mix of motherhood emotions are hitting me. Every year that has passed has felt so short and yet I look back on five years of this child of mine and I can hardly remember the little baby I brought home from the hospital. Gone is the six pound infant with a ring of black hair by the nape of his neck. Gone is the baby with colic and terrible reflux who could often only be soothed by his daddy’s deep hum. Today I am looking at a boy with long blond hair and a brightness in his eyes. I see a child that searches my face intently as we speak. Here is a boy who loves being the leader and hates losing and is always ready to tell you why something isn’t, “fair.” His sweet high pitched giggle has been replaced with a deep laugh which explodes out of him. On this eve of his birthday I am missing my baby. On this eve of his birthday I am celebrating this amazing boy.
Am I sad to see the year end and another to begin? Absolutely. I have been in this trip called parenthood now long enough to understand why people stop you so frequently those first couple of years to tell you to “enjoy it.” You know those people. You are standing in the grocery store, a baby in a carrier, your toddler in the cart seat – bags big enough to pack for a weekend away under your eyes, everything feeling a little too dreamlike, just waiting for your toddler to lose it’s shit and the baby to start getting hungry and someone walks up and tells you, “enjoy it!” And you want to punch them. But you don’t. Because #babywearing. No. Just kidding. You don’t punch them because you know they mean well – but in that moment all you want is a full night’s sleep and to remove at least one of your children from the popular “up your butt” position. Is any of this sounding familiar? And like every parent that has gone before me, I am really getting it. More and more each day my firstborn is pulling me into this awareness of how fleeting those days are. And I know now that other parents are telling people this not to be condescending (well, I’m sure there are a few because there are ALWAYS a few) but in almost a desperate way. Hidden under that statement is a secret message – “how I can get this new mom to know that for the next umpteen years of her life she’s going to wish at the end of the day that it could all just slow down.”
My boy is so excited to turn 5. He says, “5 is old” and that makes him beam. He’s looking forward to starting school. He celebrates every inch he grows and every shirt he outgrows. He wants to be bigger, faster, older. He wants to speed into life. He wants to grow and be recognized for that growth. The other day I told him “I need 4 year old hugs.” I drew him to me and continued, “soon I won’t have a 4 year old to hug.” He’s sensitive, this boy of mine. He squeezed me tight and told me, “mom, 5 year old hugs are even bigger.” And for that I am so excited.
My baby is turning 5 tomorrow.