We all know that our children go through phases. Some years are better than others, but we’ve all been told, “it’s just a phase, it won’t last long.” This phase, though, I wish would last forever.
This beautiful phase following infancy and before those big kid years is simply magical.
Let me start by saying that I did not have an easy journey through the infant phase. After both of my boys were born, I suffered from debilitating postpartum depression, intrusive thoughts, and was finally diagnosed and treated for Bipolar 2. As much as I denied it, I was part of the 1 in 5 moms who experience a maternal mental health concern. The lack of sleep combined with the routine duties of being a stay-at-home mom took a toll on me mentally.
My memory from those early years isn’t great, but I am certain it was not a magical time for me. The endless diapers and feedings, the sleepless nights, and the lack of interactions with other adults were monotonous and draining. I was in awe of the first smiles and the first steps, but I just did not thrive during that first year. I was grieving the loss of my pre-baby self while trying to hold it all together for my family.
Fast forward to the year 2021. My boys are now four and seven years old, and this phase is pure magic.
Do you know what I’m referring to? This age is where the imagination is wild and unending. Their life is a story that they can write and rewrite every morning. If they want to build a rollercoaster, it’s going to happen. When they decide it’s time to dress up as Black Panther, they are in full character mode. One day they set out all the fruits and vegetables in the house to pretend they owned a local farm. The stories are intricate and involve the entire household, even the cats.
My boys can play independently for hours, making robots and buildings that even I couldn’t imagine. They draw pictures of dragons and knights until their crayons break. They hunt for dinosaur bones in our front yard, digging for hours until they find a rock that resembles an artifact. They hold this imagination in the palm of their hands, literally.
And the playground. This is the age where you can go to the playground and just set them free. They run from that gargantuan alligator chasing them, then they stop to buy ice cream from the little girl who owns the ‘ice cream parlor’ at the bottom of the slide. Chocolate, please.
The trips to the Charleston Museum and the South Carolina Aquarium fill them with awe and excitement. Their attention span is longer than that of a toddler, yet they aren’t bored with the educational aspect as a big kid might be. It’s magical, right?
Can we also mention the things they are learning in school and how they just blow my mind at this age? Watching a child learn to read is one of the coolest things to see. Their whole world is changed. No more tricking them into thinking that sign says, “Sit down and listen to your mom.” It obviously says, “No diving.”
And I’m holding onto every last bit of childhood that they give me before they move on to being big kids.
The soft, chubby fingers that I get to hold on a walk through Charlestowne Landing.
The plea to “hold me” while I’m making breakfast.
The long goodbyes and the ecstatic hellos in the carpool line at school.
The snuggles. I’m going to miss those snuggles most of all.
I can see a glimpse of a big kid in my seven-year-old. He shies away from kisses and doesn’t need that nighttime hug like he used to. He is independent and needs his privacy, even from his mama. I love the young man that he is growing into, but I’m soaking up all of the moments of innocence that are left inside him.
These little guys are going to grow into full-blown big kids soon, and that will be a whole new phase. I can’t say I’m not looking forward to it, because I know it will bring new adventures and they will continue to amaze me, always and forever.
But I sure do love this magical phase.