I was caught off guard.
Exactly when and how it happened, I'm not sure. It was while I was busy taxiing and soothing, fixing endless snacks and hoarding sleep by the minute. In the midst of the chaos of the past few months (which is really no different than any other period of our lives), Bethany and Connor started putting themselves to bed. Before that, I always, always, went in each of their rooms and "tucked them in" every single night. And then one night they stopped asking. I was probably busy, and they told me they were going up to bed and said good night. We always said our good nights upstairs, in, their bedrooms, but I figured it was a one time thing. They saw that I was in the middle of something and decided not to make a big deal out of it. I was probably grateful, because, to be honest, there were times when I was slightly peeved to stop what I was doing to do our nightly tuck in routine. By bedtime I am so tired, and still have much to do before I can call it a night.
But then it continued, night after night. My evenings got a little easier and I was mostly relieved. I don't really know why or how it happened, if they got together and discussed it and decided they are now old enough to go to bed on their own. There have even been a few times when one of them will go up to bed and forget to find me to say good night first. And then I go to them, because okay, fine, they can put themselves to bed. But not without a "good night" and an "I love you" and even a "sweet dreams." Also, preferably, not without a hug and a kiss. That's how I want our nights to end, no matter how grown up they get.
When you have little kids, it's hard to imagine a moment like this ever happening. It's hard to imagine freedom and independence. And then when it happens, it's sort of anti-climatic. I feel a little like I'm waving my arms and saying, "No, no, no! I'm not ready for this yet!" What stops me from totally losing it, for now, is that I do still have little kids too, so my tucking in days are far from over.
It's kind of like I have two sets of kids: Bethany & Connor, and Lucy & Mattie. Bethany and Connor are growing up. In some ways it's nice, but in some ways I don't like it. The time has gone by SO FAST. Too fast. They each only have about an inch or two to grow before they catch up with me, and then it will be little more than a hot minute before they pass me right up on the growth chart. I have to say, it makes me feel a little sick. Even though I have two more to go, I know the time will fly with them as well. Pretty soon my kids will barely need me. That's a scary thought, and also a liberating thought. Who am I if I'm not on mom duty 24/7, if I'm not consistently needed around the clock?
This is a milestone school year for us. When it's over, our youngest will be leaving preschool, and our son will be leaving elementary school. I'm pressing on the brakes as hard as I can, but the gears are spinning out of control.