Last week when we got ready for the library, Eliza came downstairs in Daniel's outgrown Spiderman costume. It's the same one he wore every day for a year when he was three.
"Can I wear this, Mom?" Eliza asked.
"Absolutely," I replied.
Then Lee put on his Spiderman costume. It was too short in the legs and was (ahem) constricting in other areas.
"Can I wear mine, too?" he asked.
"Absolutely," I replied.
When we got to the library, I noticed he didn't take his coat off despite the thermostat's high setting. "You okay, buddy?" I asked. He assured me he was, but I noticed the way he kept his coat closed and kept glancing around him.
"I want to take this off," he said, gesturing toward the costume. "I've got clothes under it."
So sitting at the kid tables in the kid section in the library, I worked to help him remove his Spiderman costume. "Can you hold it?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, rolling it up and putting it into the book bag. Then we went back to his Math workbook.
I knew. It was probably the last time he'd wear a costume out in public except on Halloween. Costumes have been a BIG part of our lives for the past five years, and Lee kept squeezing into them even as the elastic groaned and the hems came closer to his knees than his ankles.
He'll still dress up, but now it'll be trying on new skills and new identities -- Big Cousin, Trusted Friend, Bike Rider, Shoe Tier, Trash Emptier, Reader, and Young Entrepreneur.
He'll visit Spiderman's world in movies and books, but chances are good he won't believe he is Spiderman or expect others to believe simply because he's wearing Spiderman's outfit.
We are moving very, very quickly through this thing called Parenting Young Ones. As someone obsessed with newborns and infants and toddlers and young pre-schoolers, I thought my heart would break daily when I realized our baby days were finished.
Instead, though, I've got more time to notice things. Instead of running from here to there, wiping bottoms and noses and spills and tears, I get to slow down and notice. I notice the lasts.
The truly awesome thing is that we get to notice the new firsts, too. They're not those familiar milestones like smiling, crawling, walking, and talking. There aren't blank spaces in baby books for these firsts.
The first time the boys came up with their own business plan and earned money, the first time Eliza climbed up in her bed without a stool, the first time they all sat at the table and conversed for an entire meal. Politely. In public.
We've entered into a new season of parenting: one where everyone is potty trained and temper tantrums aren't as frequent. They can dress themselves and buckle/unbuckle their own car seats. We have family discussions. We can go out to eat at a restaurant where the entrees cost more than $4. I get to sit down.
I'll always cherish the memories of having babies in my arms -- those nights sleeping with a baby on my chest and singing lullabies after middle-of-the-night nursing sessions; and the days holding one on my chest, one on my hip, and one by the hand. Remembering those moments will keep me warm in my rocking chair someday.
But right now I'm looking forward to big kid things. We're planning to take the kids on the AT this spring and to help them train for their first road running race. Lee is reading, and the whole world is about to open up to him.
We may not be living with Spiderman, and the boys' costume days may be over, but I can't WAIT to see what identity they try on next.