By the time this column prints, my daughter will have turned 4 years old.
Her birthday in late November is something we are celebrating with My Little Pony cupcakes and plenty of ice cream.
But preparing for that day left me with one burning question: How the bleep did this happen?
My entire pregnancy felt surreal, and the baby years passed in a blur. Now that we are four years into this ride, I feel like things have calmed down enough that I can step back and reflect a bit.
My conclusion – I have no idea how I got here.
It’s a great mystery of life how parents can simultaneously feel like the years have flown by, and that time is standing still each day.
You feel that you will never make it through the stages of endless crying or sleepless nights. Then one day you wake up and you have a 4-year-old smiling up at you.
My husband and I joke about how old we feel. Usually it’s in terms of falling asleep before 9 p.m., or that we can’t name a single member of One Direction.
But I could have sworn it was only yesterday we were looking at our sweet little blob on an ultrasound printout.
Now that blob can dress herself and spell her own name.
I made the mistake of comparing two photographs of CeCe, taken only 6 months apart. The changes were so dramatic.
The length of her hair, the slight loss of baby chub in her cheeks, and how tall she had grown in that short time.
We don’t notice the changes day by day, but birthdays offer a reality check for parents.
It’s not just the number of candles on the cake that is sobering. It’s the year she will stop wanting a party centered on a cartoon character.
It’s the day she will ask for cash instead of toys as gifts. It’s the moment when she wants her own chair instead of sitting on your lap to eat cake.
I know these days are still years away for me. But when they do come, it will feel like I just wrote this column yesterday.
You want to know the truest statement about parenting: “The days are long, but the years are short.”