We set up our chairs on the sidewalk and a group of moms sat down on the curb in front of us. There were three of them and they all had kids about preschool age or younger. I eavesdropped as they discussed which preschool their little ones would be attending in the fall. One of them kept covering her daughter's ears because she was so afraid of her child's separation anxiety that they don't discuss preschool in front of her. They debated the play-based versus Montessori schools. I resisted the urge to interject and tell them that they should choose the preschool closest to their house because in the end it really doesn't matter all that much. One of them was pregnant and I watched as she got up from her curb seat countless times to chase down her extremely busy toddler.
My three kids walked by. We waved and cheered and took pictures. We went to meet them at the end of the parade where there was food and games and music.
The lines for food were long and there were two families with strollers in front of me. Another pregnant mom with a toddler who was clearly tired and hungry. As my family found a spot to sit and wait for food I eavesdropped again. The two moms discussed whether or not to just head home or stick it out and wait for food there. In the end one family stayed while the other decided it wasn't worth risking messing up their nap schedule and said their goodbyes.
We ate our tacos and drank our lemonade with some friends. My husband and I chatted with the other parents as our kids ran off to play games. They were in my line of sight the whole time and ran back occasionally to check in. Once they cashed in their tickets for prizes (which were books instead of candy! thank you carnival organizers, my kids and I were thrilled), we headed home full and happy.
On the way to our car we passed a couple carrying twins who looked about two years old. One of them was completely melting down. I watched as the mother struggled to hold her screaming, wiggly toddler and keep up with her husband and the other toddler. I looked at my husband and said, "I am so glad we are past that stage." He nodded in agreement.
I'm just going to say it, having two eight year olds and a six year old is easier for me than the baby, toddler, preschooler years. I didn't stress this morning about carrying snacks with me, what we would eat or how the event would work in with our nap schedule. I had uninterrupted conversations with my husband and other parents.
This stage has it's challenges for sure. But I'm finding day to day life just a little lighter on my shoulders lately.
We were all tired when we got home and we settled in the family room to look over the new books and relax. My son crawled onto my lap and watched as I surfed around the internet on my laptop. Eventually he said he was tired and laid his head on my shoulder. I didn't think he would really fall asleep, but he was out cold in less than thirty seconds.
I covered him with a blanket and closed my eyes too. And then it hit me. I was transported back just a few short years ago when he was a newborn and I could not get enough of holding him close. I would look forward to rocking him to sleep each night and would linger long past what was necessary in his room before setting him in his crib. Then my mind went back even further to when I would set in the big comfy, beige chair from IKEA with my infant twins asleep in my arms. They slept much longer in that chair with me than they did in their crib. I spent endless afternoon hours in that chair staring out my bedroom window.
I savored every minute of that afternoon nap.