Trading in those three minutes

Do you hear that?

It's the sound of silence in the Casa de Stie. The little people who have been such good company all summer long have loaded their backpacks, donned their new clothes, and took happy steps onto the big yellow bus which steals them from me each year.

The younger two are still in elementary, but the biggest boy is making the leap to middle school this year.

Honestly? I am more terrified than he ever will be. Not because I think he will be bullied or will struggle with the course work. But because these little lives of theirs seem to keep marching by at an ever-increasing pace. I mean, wasn't he just born? Wasn't that like, um, 47 minutes ago?

How is he in middle school now?

It makes me angry a little bit, how fast it all goes. I feel gypped. I want some time back, to make sure I memorized her baby smell or the sound of his toddling voice cheering with glee as he knocked over YET ANOTHER tower of blocks. I want to pinch those chubby cheeks in the highchair and run my fingers through her hair after the first big-girl haircut. I want to play with that excited three- and one-year-old in the park again, only this time, I'll not sit exhausted on the bench. I'll get up and chase them. I'll hug them tight through their laughter, and tickle those round bellies with kisses when I catch them.

I'll forgo the Disney babysitter just this once and cuddle them to my chest, breathing in their sweaty sweetness, and make up story after story about princesses, dinosaurs, and firetrucks. I'll not make such a fuss when their little muddy hand prints appear on the wall. I'll bend down and look at more ladybugs in the dewey grass.

I'll hold them tight. And never let go.

Because you know what? They really don't stay like that for more than a minute. I never would have believed you if you had told me that when I was counting the minutes until they were out of diapers or putting them to bed early so I could have JUST THREE MINUTES TO MYSELF ALREADY.

Well, I've got those three minutes now. And then some.

And I think I'd happily trade them if I could.

Take care of my babies today, please.