My baby sits on his haunches and lines up his toy cars in a neat row.
No longer a baby, I think, noticing Owen’s big boy haircut and longer frame that finally fills out size 2T clothes.
It’s a moment of peace in our normally chaotic house. Big sister Eve is off entertaining herself. Owen and I talk about fire trucks and racecars and choo choo trains. I try to convince him the green car is actually green and not red.
I’m in the sweet spot, I think.
And then one of the little ones starts crying or screaming or needs a diaper changed or throws a glass of milk on the floor because it’s in the wrong cup.
OK, I’m not there yet.
But it’s close, that sweet spot where we’re past the toddler tantrums and whining and neediness, but not yet to the pre-teen drama.
I see glimpses, when Owen asks politely for juice. When he picks up those toy cars. When I take him into a gas station bathroom and he doesn’t escape under the stall door, forcing me to chase him before I’ve pulled up my pants.
And they are so sweet, those moments. It feels more like living than surviving.
We went to my niece’s birthday party in late January at an indoor play center. The kids scampered up ladders and through tubes and down slides, and rolled around in a ball pit. I was able to watch and talk to people and even sit down.
I later told my sister-in-law it was the first time I’d taken both kids to an event by myself that hadn’t been a completely stress-filled experience.
But then we regress. Like the infamous bowling outing of February 2014.
My husband’s office organized a Saturday night of pizza and bowling for the employees and their families. All day Owen was excited to “go bo-ing.”
We’ve taken to driving separately to these kinds of events, the extra car providing an escape plan in case of emergency (atomic meltdowns, diaper shortages, etc.) For a moment, I contemplated us taking one car that night.
Thank goodness we didn’t.
Owen and I clocked about 53 minutes at the bowling alley. He screamed for 48 of them.
He didn’t want to eat the pizza. He wanted to “go bo-ing.”
He didn’t want to put on the bowling shoes. He wanted to “go bo-ing.”
And when it was finally time to bowl, he didn’t want to wait his turn. He didn’t want us to help him. He didn’t want to stay in one lane. He didn’t really even comprehend the concept of lanes, wanting instead to catapult the ball across them instead of down one.
He also didn’t want to leave when we finally said “enough” and I bundled him up against his will, leaving Craig and Eve to bowl in peace.
Not so sweet.
But we persevere, relishing in those brief sweet spot moments, knowing it’s getting closer while still driving two cars.
And I try not to think about Eve’s propensity for girl drama, how those tween years will arrive sooner than later.
It will have been sweet while it lasted.
Sherri Richards is mom to 5-year-old Eve and 2-year-old Owen, and business editor of The Forum. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org