We moved to Taipei 5 years ago this month. A was barely 4; L was just an infant. I was in the middle of the mother-of-preschooler years and was feeling quite overwhelmed with it all. The boys both seemed busier than the average child (it was not unusual to find my 10-month-old baby perched on top of the dining table or piano, or my 4-year-old on top of the 9-foot courtyard walls; ER visits were a matter of course for us) and they kept me running all day. The sun rises early in Taipei (by 5 in the summer), and so the boys did too, leaving me perpetually sleepy. Mike had just started a new position and was traveling up to 3 months a year, often leaving me and the boys to fend for ourselves in a new city where the culture was different, the language largely unfamiliar, the days long and hot and hard to fill.
We had only been in Taipei a few weeks when Mike had to travel to meetings in Thailand. During his absence, I unpacked in our new apartment and weathered both a large earthquake and a typhoon that made a direct hit on our island, all while chasing two very small, very active boys. School started that week, and I looked a bit longingly at my neighbors who were sending their elementary-aged children off to school. A had just a year left at home before he would start kindergarten, but L, because of when his birthday fell, had 5 more years. 5 more years! I thought to myself. How will I ever survive this season? Each day was so long, so full, so exhausting. So rewarding as well, it goes without saying, but this mama was tired, and the long season of long days seemed to stretch on forever in that moment.
But then yesterday came. Yesterday, I rose early, and packed 2 school lunches, and 2 sets of mornings snacks, and 2 backpacks. I laid out 2 sets of school clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of socks. I sat in my office, watched the brilliant sun begin to peek over the high-rise apartment building opposite ours, and reflected in the brief moment between daybreak and the sound of little voices waking. In the blink of an eye, we went from having a household of tiny children to having 2 out of 3 boys in school all day.
How did that happen?
Just my 2-year-old remains at home with me, and I now know his at-home days will slip away through my fingers, one by one by one without my even realizing it, until one early morning I rise to get all 3 children off to school for the first time. And just like that, my days as a mom-of-preschoolers will be over.
Every single day of the last 5 years was long.
But I never knew just how short the years would be.