I have tucked all my children into their beds. There are no cribs here anymore. I threw away the diaper bag more than a year ago. The step-stool by the bathroom sink has been set aside because they can all reach the faucet "flat-footed."
And, now, for the first time I can say, "My youngest is five."
I have had other five-year-olds in my house (three to be exact) but they were never the youngest. There was always a younger sibling. Up until now motherhood for me has been defined by nursing & naps, sippy cups & child's silverware, playgrounds & interrupted conversations.
It didn't really happen in one moment this change from babies to children. They grow gradually. And that is precisely why it is hard to see the growth. So, every once in awhile I back them against the door: heels on the floor, head straight & a pencil line. They step aside. We measure and date the mark and see how much they grew this year.
This turning of five for my last-born is like a mark on the door of my motherhood. One day he was four, and now he is five. Though it didn't happen suddenly, it seems that one minute ago I had babies and now I don't.
I'm not sure how I got here. But I do know that this is the first time in twelve years that I have ever said, "My youngest is five."
Things have changed. And I'm stopping to notice this mark on the door of my heart.