Inside: Building a family can feel at times like a long journey, with many hurdles. But the truth is, they grow up so fast. From homemade playdough to driving lessons. Sometimes it feels as though these big changes happened in the blink of an eye.
I never realized they’d grow up this fast.
21 years ago, I made the decision to stay home and raise my firstborn. I remember sitting cross-legged on the ground one day, his precious brown body folded up in my arms, and I realized I would walk away from all the years I’d invested in my Education degree so that I could be the one to teach him to read. I’ve never regretted my decision.
Our first little home was 830 square feet, 80 years old, and so imperfect but the moment I walked in, two little people in tow by this time, I knew it was ours. Together we painted the walls of each room a different bright color and used the space as creatively as we could. I sewed up little curtains and made it our own. We had a small home but a big yard and spent a lot of time out there or on nature walks and at the park.
For a time I ran a dayhome for other children as I parented and homeschooled; a necessity for a season as we began paying off my hefty student loans. It wasn’t easy and often when 5 pm came around all I wanted to do was quit parenting, lay on the rug and watch Oprah. But I was determined and grateful for my simple but beautiful life.
We grew our family in a way that was simple and sustainable
We never had fancy things but it didn’t matter. Secondhand suited us fine. Homemade playdough and a library card carried us far and as my kids grew we always found a way to support them in their primary interests. We’d take little jobs here and there and my husband made some money officiating sports to provide extras like piano lessons and quality art supplies.
When baby number 3 joined the nest we decided it was time to move. I felt frustrated that my kids could never leave out any Lego and we had no room for a proper crib. We sold our little house at almost double what we bought it for and paid off the rest of the student loans. Even though our new home had a bigger (yet practical) mortgage, our budget balance remained the same.
We’ve been here 12 years already and the years have flown by. Our years of cuddling on the couch morphed into driving lessons and then driving kids to university.
I painted recently but there is a piece of wall in our kitchen that remains untouched. It was here that we measured kids as they grew, inch by inch, as child became teen and then man. I’m so grateful for all the family meals and game nights we shared while we had time. I am thankful that we prioritized relationships over busyness.
I didn’t realize they’d grow up so fast
You hear it all the time but ignore it because when you’re in the thick of sleepless nights or cranky toddlers the days and years stretch out before you without end.
When you’re struggling to pay for music lessons and get food on the table, chauffeuring teens and frustrated by mess, you long for a break and a quieter home.
But one day you’re helping your daughter find dry mittens to cover chubby cold hands and the next, it seems, you’re helping her apply for scholarships and get started on her own life plan.
They grow up so fast.
This is a season of emptying bookshelves of the books we used to love, giving away games and decluttering craft supplies. A season of letting go.
I reminisce about the days that we read classics aloud and my son Dubstepped in the kitchen. I miss hearing my older daughter play Bach or some modern jazzy tune as I prepared supper one room away. Only a few months ago I grumbled as I tripped over her pile of shoes and barked at her to clean her mess off the kitchen table.
And some days I feel it like a heavy weight on my chest, preventing me from catching my breath.
They grow up so incredibly fast
In this season, as I return to work part-time and adjust to a quieter home, my primary focus remains building my family and loving these people I am privileged to share life with. This means driving to the city to bring food or take them out to eat. It means being available when they need me and offering space when they don’t.
And even though we have one daughter left at home, she is no longer really a child. I am hyper-aware of the passing of time and just how fast they grow. This motivates me to show up each day with joyful curiosity. To receive every day open-armed and to appreciate each step of the way.
We are caught in the transition of time between busy home and empty nest and daily we must make the choice to be fully present for all of it. I don’t want to waste a crumb.
My husband and I so clearly remember our own university days yet here we are with an emptying house and plans to downsize again. Sell our home, find an apartment somewhere with a balcony and natural light and live mortgage-free. Frugally. With space for grandbabies to come and play if that gift comes our way.
We so clearly remember meeting and falling in love. Welcoming each sweet child into our family and wondering at who they’d become. It has all been better and harder than we ever could have planned.
I never realized they’d grow up this fast.