It begins gradually…
There are no more stinky bottles to be washed out after being found months after being lost in the recesses of the couch.
You pass by the jumbo packs of diapers at the store without so much as a glance and eventually the diaper pail itself gets put out in the trash.
Your clothes stay clean during the day rather than being decorated with a spray of spit up or a smear of peanut butter.
Your daily mothering tasks shift ever so gradually from day-long crafts with your friends while your collective toddlers watch Barney to driving carpools all over creation and hardly ever getting a minute to talk to your friends.
Your children start to bathe and shower without constant supervision.
The bag of books and activities you bring to church starts being called the “church bag” rather than the “diaper bag.”
Your mothering duties shift from wiping baby food from high chairs and cleaning up cheerios off the floor to trying to figure out Eagle projects and staying up late into the night to help write reports about foreign countries.
The kids start to “get” the inside jokes you and your husband share and you begin to include them in your discussions.
The world surrounding your children is no longer shared solely by you. They have an alternate universe. School takes them from you for so many hours and they ride their bikes around the neighborhood having discussions with their friends that you will never hear.
Your friend tells you she overhears a group of teenage girls talking about how cute your son is at the movie theater.
Your daughter wears mascara.
Your son requests deodorant when you go to the store.
He gets a Facebook account and the ever so slight hint of a mini mustache appears above his smile.
You chaperon a dance filled to the brim with your kids’ friends and although your own children missed the age cut-off to be there, it hits you that they are on the cusp of the whole rigmarole of teenager-hood and dating.
And then BAM! Right there in that sea of teenagers it hits you that it is happening:
That vision you had when your daughter was born fourteen short months after your son…how some day they would thank their lucky stars to have each other so close because on top of all the other fun reasons, they would have friends who “liked” each others’ friends and all the adventure that comes along with that.
You come home from the dance to find them sprawled around the family room with friends…boys and girls. You notice a teeny, tiny hint of flirting and you smile to yourself.
Because you realize that your children are becoming themselves.(This is Max learning Chinese from the computer…you should hear him, he sounds awesome.)
…much better selves than you could have even imagined they would be.
And instead of that little fact making you want to shrivel up in a corner and cry because they are growing up too fast, it hits you that you actually love it.
This blog made me cry. I've been there and I loved those teenage years. The best is yet to come!
I just wrote about this today… about how the "lasts" pass us by without our really noticing, and then all of a sudden, our kids are grown. Lovely post. 🙂
Thank you so much for writing this. My kids are still small, 5, 3 and 6 months but it has weighed so heavily on my heart lately how quickly these days are flying by. I've worried that these were the "best days" and I would never have them back. This post was so good for me to read, I realize that they can all be "best days." Thank you!
Man this made me cry. I was just looking at some old pictures from when my boys were about 3 yrs old and 18 months. Now those two are 9 and 6. I was also bathing our 3 year old just now thinking he is just getting to be so independent, and is the last one I have to bathe. So, instead of feeling like it was a chore, it felt like a privedge. I just love your blog and your outlook on life!
*privilege* gosh 🙂
The teenage years used to terrify me. We are now neck-deep in them and I LOVE it! I love the post and love the insights from your blog. Life is truly an adventure and we are here to not only learn and grow, but also to enjoy the journey. It's fun watching our kids learning how to fly!
I'm new to your blog, and I just want to tell you how much I'm enjoying it! You have such a beautiful family and a beautiful blog! (Great pictures!) I know you must be super busy with your own life, but if you ever find that you have time to check out new blogs, please consider looking at mine. Here's the address: paralyzedwithjoy.blogspot.com. Thanks and have a great day!
Fabulous post Shawni. Magnificently said!
Thank you for making me look forward to motherhood. I hope my time to be mom is drawing close. Blogs like yours make me feel hopeful!
You have such a way with words! You seem to put into words the way I feel about mothering too!
I agree with Ashley… it's so good to hear that they're all the "best days!" that and the comment that the teenage years are great are all welcome reminders that life is precious… all of it!
That sounds so nice ; ) I just hope I am raising my kids with righteousness so that they will grow into extra-ordinary people.
I can't think of the best way to phrase this…
But this post made my heart smile (:
I am seriously loving reading about your family! Every time I am pregnant, I read "Raising up a Family to the Lord" by your parents. I never tire of being reminded to parent by listening to the Spirit and to pray about everything. I remember someone telling me once, "Do you realize that you are going to have FIVE teenagers at the same time?" Immediately a smile came to my face and I answered with total excitement, "I AM going to have five teenagers at the same time, isn't that so EXCITING!" Now we have two, with several behind them and I am thrilled to have such a privilege! Thank you for your sweet words and experiences.
It truly IS a fun ride. My youngest two…a boy and a girl are 15 months apart. They are 30 and 31 now, but I remember the days when her girlfriends wanted to spend the night because her brother was cute!!! Oh how I loved the teenage years…and college is even better! Enjoy the ride!
First, I must say that I LOVE your blog. Truly. It speaks to my heart. I can relate so well to this post. Our eldest is turning 13 in just 2 days. I'm so excited for him! And on the other hand, I'm terrified. I know that we'll get through those teenage years, just like we got through bottles and pureed peas and potty training. But, I'm still nervous. At least you're giving me hope that it will be great! Guess I'd better hold on to my hat, huh? 🙂
Great post Shawni. I love your posts because they always seem to mirror what is going on in my home and I love your take on things, which is very close to mine…so it kind of justifies that I am doing this parenting thing correctly…or so we think.
We are on the cusp of the teenage years here and those lasts, and firsts still make me cry. I am truly embracing enjoying the little moments.
Thanks for sharing your life with us…I love reading about it.
Yes, I was warned many years ago when my first child was born that it will go so quickly. There were days that I said to myself, "I just wish they would grow up a little faster", then you blink and they are turning 17, 15, etc…and you're wondering to yourself, "What the heck just happened here?" I could swear I just came home from the hospital with my first child and now my 5th is turning 9…what's up with that?
I'm so in there with ya.
oh that was beautiful!!!!!! right now I am obviously still living baby with a 4 month old and 2 year old twins but just having one at school has made me realise how life changes. Seeing the older mums with older children and how different their lives are. It has also made me realise that maybe if I don't have my 5th baby that it will be ok, things get busier in a different way and that will be ok.
Even today I have to go to a dr's appointments but had to put 2 nice tops back in my wardrobe at the risk of having them ruined by baby throw up on my shoulder! I settled on a fancier t-shirt – it will be nice when I can wear the silk tops instead!
a beautiful post!
How beautiful was that. I have 5 kids that are all about the same ages as yours….couldn't agree more with what you said. Loved it. Thanks for the lift! This motherhood gig…it really is better than I could have ever imagined.
One of the reasons I look up to you so much is you are in a different season of motherhood than I am. I love inpsiring examples to encourage me to get there happily while enjoying where I am at now. For the most part I do!
I never knew until this post that your oldest are 14 months apart. My babies are 13 months apart. And lately it has been really, really hard. Any advice? And can we be friends? I think you are amazing!
I have always been really intimidated working with kids older than 8-years old and loved the baby/toddler stage. I'm glad that I've found, lately, that I'm actually excited for the teen years, that it won't be such a bad thing, sharing a part of our adult world with them. Now, if only I could get our 3 year-old to use the potty. Such a sweet post!
My oldest just turned 14 two weeks ago. He will take his driver's permit test today. His first church dance is in March. He is 5'10". He is shaving his slight mustache. His voice is very deep. A cute girl likes him.
My daughter turned 12 today. Young Women's!!! She is a a beautiful, responsible young woman. She was born with mothering instincts. I love the way she cares for her little brother.
Yes, growing up. Gone are the days when I had to haul my little kids everywhere I went. Now I often go to the store alone. My husband and I go on many dates. The kids are adept at taking care of themselves and each other.
Sigh…even so–I miss the young days. Thank goodness I have an 8 year-old and a 4 year-old, too!
This happened to me–Now my oldest is 20, married, and expecting her first baby while my second is patiently waiting to leave for his mission to NYC Spanish in 2 1/2 months.
I promise you. It is a fun ride.
You realize your children are becoming themselves… perfect! I feel exactly this way, with my 15, 13, and 9 year old. Beautiful post!
I just found your blog last night off of your video on mormon.org. What a beautiful family and a beautiful blog! I enjoyed this post. Right now I am at the beginning of the mommyhood journey with three boys ages three and under. My last two are just fourteen months apart and I love to see that your oldest kids are so close. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi and thanks for letting me join in on your fun1
With an attitude like yours, you will have GREAT teenage years with your kids. I LOVE your "children are becoming themselves." !!!!
Wait until they approach 16. I can't figure out where the time has gone! I love who my teenagers but I am so sad to think about the fact that they are growing up on me!
oh what a relief to hear that you atually love it. I'm so glad this post ended that way, because I was afraid it would just make you (and me in the future) sad. 🙂
I'm reading your (& your mom's) book right now. I went to Joyschool when I was little. I sing "Snuggle Me Warm" to my kids every night & we love singing the gunnybags song with low voices.
I found your blog before I knew of all of those connections, through Mormon.org
Small world, this blogosphere, eh?
Glad to have found you 🙂
I've been reading your blog for ages now and have never commented before!
This post was so lovely. It really makes me yearn for that time in my life when I'll have children of my own to see their changes.
Thanks for sharing!
Shawni – I think this is one of the best posts you've written. Love every word and your take on the teen scene. We're still (so it feels) far away from there. But reading this reminds me how fast it can reveal itself.
ps – Congrats on Mother of the Year! Not a surprise. You are inspiring so many.
Wowee! I cannot wait to get to this phase of montherhood! Thanks for writing this – it's already inspired me to appreciate where we're at right now because soon it'll be over (yet, I am really excited to walk past the diapers!)
Oh Shawni, Maddie just got accepted to BYU and although the ride has been/is/and will be wonderful-don't think I didn't cry for two days straight.
Oops, this is Shelley, my Dad was logged into my computer.
The time goes so quickly. My oldest son is going to be 31 in a few days – and my oldest daughter turns 28 on Saturday. They are still kids to me – I don't know where the time has gone!
I love love love this post. My kids are 4 and 1 and I find myself wishing away the days. "I wish he could walk" "I wish she could tie her own shoes"
Before I know it they will. And eventually, if I do my job right, they will tie their shoes and walk into their own lives.
Thanks for the perspective.
This makes me crave to be a mom 🙂 Love it. Beautiful writing.
This post made me smile. I'm only 19, but I can't wait to get married and have kids. (Well, maybe I can, actually…)
I cried reading this because I am just starting out in motherhood. I have two baby boys, seventeen months apart (one seventeen mo.s and the other 3 weeks) and am right in the middle of what you were first describing. I loved reading this because it gives me hope for the future! Sometimes it scares me thinking about having teenagers and older kids and being, dare I say it? Old myself! lol anyways, love your blog, thanks for being so honest!
Your post made me cry! I am in the early stages of motherhood with 3 boys in 3 1/2 years. Like you said it is happening. Somedays I wonder when the diaper changing will end, and other days I hear them answer a question in primary like a big kid and can't believe it is happening–they are growing up. Thank you so much for this post.
My oldest is 6, my youngest (sitting on my lap right now) is 5 months. This made me tear up a little just thinking about the lives my kids have ahead of them and how fun (and scary) it will be.