I'm quite certain, at some point I've asked my own children if they feel different on their birthday, although I certainly haven't been nearly as dedicated to the question as my dad is.
This morning I realized, I've started my own birthday habit that may make my children roll their eyes and groan as all of my siblings and I have for years with my dad.
My habit has only started in the last couple of years or so. Up until then, I have always been anxious for my children to turn the next age. Especially Megan, the firstborn. I couldn't wait for her next birthday, the anticipation of parenting a "_____ year old" was always there. Perhaps I thought each new year would mark some new parenting milestone, or some earth-shattering peak that would seem far better than the last. (I admit I've suffered a little from the "grass is always greener" mentality over the years.)
Gradually, I began to realize how many years I have been waiting for my children to be at the ever-elusive age where they'd be able to do this or that alone, or be able to start school, or be able to stay home alone, etc. etc. etc. Not so much any more.
My new habit began about the same time my babies and children all began growing at ever-increasing speeds. Now, in the days preceding a birthday, my children hear me declare everything they do a last for that specific age. "Oh, it should be Megan's turn to pray. She'll never pray again as a 13 year old." or "Luke, that is the last time you'll ever eat breakfast as a 10 year old."
Take today for example. I read book after book to Joshua this morning while the breakfast mess sat patiently on the counter and I, still wearing my bathrobe. Together we settled onto the couch and I honored his continuous requests for "Just one more book?" Even the faint smell of dried pee on his pajamas didn't deter me--all I could think (and say) was, "Why not? This will be the last time we'll read books together when you are FIVE years old."
And so here we go again. Fortunately, Joshua doesn't know exactly what he could get away with today, or what he could be granted if he were to ask, for no other reason than today being the last day of having Joshua be a five year old.
I'm hoping Drew doesn't catch on and tell him about our trip to Costco a couple of weeks ago, two days before Drew's 4th birthday. Just as I finished up a big shop at Costco and walked by the food-court with Drew, I generously stated, "Drew, you were such a good boy while we did lots of shopping. Would you like to choose either a churro or a soda as a treat?"
Drew--with his trademark tilted head--and expressions that I wish I could capture on video every time, wagged his finger and very seriously said, "Well, if I have a churro it will make me thirsty so I need a churro AND a rootbeer."
Laughter and tears sprung from my face simultaneously, laughter at his smart thinking, and tears that he would never have the opportunity to have a churro AND a soda at Costco again while he was three years old.
Clearly you can see that Drew won me over that Thursday afternoon at Costco.
Today, is Joshua's last day of being five years old. The next few weeks are Ellie's last few weeks of being eight, and so on and so forth. It never ends. My children are growing faster than ever before. Each night I tuck them into bed, and each morning they wake up just a little bit older.
Once in a while I wish I could freeze time, mostly I wish I could just slow it down, and then there are those days, I wish it would pass at an ever increasing speed. That is what makes me sad, the wish I wish the least, is the wish I'm granted the most.
Today I will make the most of the last day of whatever.
Then I'll do the same thing tomorrow.
And the next day.
And the next.
Because I KNOW, churros and rootbeers at Costco won't last forever.
And one day it will feel different being ___.