Things get easier after you hit the big four with your child. That's the magic number, the one that starts the gateway to being reasonable and calm and somewhat self-aware. Maybe it's not for every kid, but in our house, four was the game-changer.
Not just because you are putting the first foot into big kid territory, but also there is preschool.
For people without that awesome family support or low-cost babysitters, school totally becomes a part of that support system. On really overwhelming days, I had to remind myself that right now I can't run errands alone or go to the gym every weekday, but that it was coming soon.
For me, having somewhere safe that my youngest can go to learn and experience new things while I get a handful of hours alone is amazing. It's not replicated here in the US by anything else. And that, along with the crucial developmental milestones that turning four-years-old comes with, means that this birthday was truly about entering a different season for life, work, and family for all of us.
A part of me is a little sad. My four-year-old is my baby. Or was. My older two were so much older that she was the only little one in the house, and that stage of life is over with.
Mostly it's exciting.
Time to myself to work, both on my health and my actual work, has not been a reality since we began raising small kids almost twelve years ago. This is going to be a much-needed time of calm and focus. Working in the creative industry when you are the parent of small kids is near damn impossible without a ton of help, and most days it felt like all I could do in the field I was trained in was treat it like a hobby. Having a family is the most important thing I have ever done, but that. Was. VERY. Hard.
It's also deeply special to watch my kids get older because everything changes just so much, and yet they retain that individual spark that was noticeable from birth. It's kind of breathtaking.
We've taken photos at the same local park each year around my youngest's birthday-mostly because she just loves that particular park, and we're always there, so it's just a thing that happens.
You can literally watch her morph into the wilder, ganglier version of a young curious girl from a tiny baby in the photos.
This parenting thing is wild.