The phrase "they grow up so fast” has to be the most over-used phrase said by parents ever (even though I cannot find any statistics to support this theory).  In fact, I've lost count of how many times that phrase has been said to me. It always came from older, wiser parents whose children were eons from the baby/toddler stage.

Truth be told, when you’re dealing with the never-ending phases of parenting — sleepless nights, fussiness or toddler tantrums — the last thing you want to hear is “they grow up so fast” and "enjoy every minute." Because, honestly, all you want to do is rip your hair out because life is moving in slow motion and you just want a break (or some sleep).

But now, as I prepare to celebrate my daughter’s fifth birthday, that phrase has come back to bite me in the butt. I get it now. How in the world did five years go by so quickly? Why did I wish for time to speed up during those hard moments?

I remember feeling so relieved at her first birthday that we'd made it through that first year. Between complications from pregnancy, suffering from postpartum depression, a dairy/protein intolerance, several ear infections and lots of crying, I was thrilled we all survived. It was truly a celebration. Every birthday since has been filled with pure joy and excitement over the kind, smart and creative little being she’s growing into.

But 5 feels different. Five means no more toddler. Now she’s a little girl. Five means kindergarten this fall, where she’ll be bombarded with new expectations, routines and situations I can’t control. Five means more questions, bigger conversations and discovering the world isn’t perfect.

Five means so many things I’m not ready for yet, and this mama is on the struggle bus about it.

I understand each age is special in its own unique way. I am excited to watch my child grow, discover the world and figure out what type of person she wants to be. But I’m also acutely aware that the older she gets, the less she’ll need me. That realization is an emotional struggle no parenting book can prepare you for.

For now, all I can do is soak in the innocence, cuddles, special moments and all the ways she needs me now. I can pray for time to slow down or I can make every effort to be present in this all-consuming, emotional journey we call parenthood.

Because, as we all know, “they grow up so fast.”

***

Stephanie Sullivan is a full-time working mom raising two kiddos in Omaha. She’s originally from New Jersey and loves exploring everything the city of Omaha has to offer. She and her husband, Dan, have been married for seven years, and he does a fabulous job keeping her Jersey attitude in check. She is excited to connect with local moms and share her personal stories of the emotional ups and downs of parenthood.

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