My twins turned four years old this week, and I’m an emotional wreck. Four sounds BIG. Four is almost five, and five is a whole hand.
I won’t go so far to say I finally understand all of those nosy grocery store shoppers who insist that “it goes by fast!,” but I can almost see that.
My twins turning four feels sort of like I’ve downed a cocktail of mommy emotions. The mixture starts with a shot of guilt. Guilty that I haven’t been as patient/compassionate/attentive/fun/wise as I have aspired to be over the last four years. Add in a splash of pride because I’m proud of my husband, my oldest child, and mainly myself for surviving these four years with the overwhelming abundance of having twins. Stir in some anxiety about what my role is now that they are more independent. Top it off with a spritz of sadness because they are my babies, and they don’t seem like babies anymore.
Being a parent of “little-little” kids is like being in a club. A head nod to the mom in the grocery store who is also pushing a cart filled with more children than food. A brief “I’ve been there” to the parent tackling a temper tantrum. There is a mutual understanding that we are all struggling because parenting “little-little” kids is a hard-won right of passage.
But now that they are four, it feels like I’ve moved out of “little-little” kids club. They have been potty trained for well over a year. 2/3 of my kids sleep through the night. I don’t worry (as much) about them choking, and they go on play dates without me. Four is like the small child version of a “tween.” Four year olds are not toddlers, but they are not school aged kids, either. The term preschoolers is accurate, but they were preschoolers when they were three, too, and now they just seem bigger. I’m certain some readers will argue that my kids are still “little-little”, and maybe in some ways, they are. They still cry, enjoy Dora the Explorer, and speak gibberish. It just feels like another one of those in-between times in my life where we’ve finished one lap, but haven’t yet started the next lap.
Over four years I went from my twins calling me Mmm to Mama to Mommy to Mom. My youngest even refers to me by my first name when he is trying to be cute. Mixed in with all of my anxiety about them turning four is a little excitement because four also means that Mama/Mommy/Mom can have a little time to be Joelle again. To wear real clothes from time to time. To make a real dinner. To read a magazine.
Parenting twins plus one is still exhausting. But I feel like a little bit of me has graduated from this stage of my life. 4 years of high school. 4 years of college. 4 years of parenting twins plus one. Each one should be celebrated with a commencement-both an ending and a beginning.
Part of me is sad that they are still “little kids” but not “little-little kids.” But part of me in relieved.
I’ll drink to that.