I blinked.

Ed. Note: This is the first in a three-column Parenting series on the Tiki Tiki this week. Click here to learn more about upcoming posts.

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have four children. Well, you can’t really call any of them children any more. Amy is 27, Adam is 24, Lucy is 17 and Jonathan is 14.

Offspring? Spawn? No, children is still the correct word. But it’s complicated.

I have been at this parenting thing for the past 27 years. Not to say that I actually have to parent the two older ones. I life to refer to myself as their Life Coach, but that’s not important right now.

Jonathan, my youngest, was born when Amy was in the 7th grade. Adam was in 4th. Lucy was two and a half and still in diapers.

My days were a blur of carpools and play-dates and sleepovers and sleepless nights.

There were toys, it seemed, everywhere in our tiny condo. I didn’t own anything that didn’t have spit-up on the shoulder, which really didn’t matter much, because I never went to many places that required dressing up.

Both Lucy and Jonathan were rock-me-to-sleep types, so our bedtime routine included a lot of Rocker Time. So I learned to sleep sitting up.

Exhibit A:

Marta learns to sleep sitting up. 1996.

But time, of course, is relentless and all four of my kids were growing and changing. The thing that I have always loved about having these four people around is that they’ve always been in such different places. For perspective: Jonathan started Kindergarten at the same time that Amy started college. (I know. Shut up.)

I did the math and realized that I have had a teenager in the house continuously since 1996 (except for 32 days in 2006 between Adam’s 20th birthday and Lucy’s 13th, but that’s not important right now, either).

My husband and I have warmed countless seats at football games and dance recitals. We have applauded all four of our theater geeks on stage at various times and in various venues. We have painted dozens of sets and I have sewn dozens of costumes.

Our home has always been filled with their friends. I’m delighted to report that even with my son gone, his friends still feel enough at home here that when they’re in town they’ll arrange to stay with us.

I have homeschooled Lucy and Jonathan for the past 8 years. This year both of them applied and were accepted to the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA – pronounced “OH-SHA”).  Think Fame but without the drugs and dancing on cars. =D

Lucy is a senior and Jonathan is a freshman. They are delighted with their amazing new school environment in which they get to mine their talents. They have teachers and lockers and bell schedules and homework. I’m proud of the job I’ve done raising them. They’re good people.

But, this new phase of their lives has created a seismic shift in our home and particularly in my life.

Jonathan, 14 & Lucy, 17

Do I miss diapers and carrying Cheerios in my purse at all times? Of course not.

Do I miss tantrums and “she’s touching me” arguments. Obviously not.

Do I miss making lesson plans and organizing their activities. No. I’m over that, too.

But as I’m writing this, the memories of all those things are so vivid. I remember taking a thousand pictures of Amy on her first day of Kindergarten. (<–This was back in the days of film, too!)

I remember holding my breath as Eric let go of the handlebars and Adam was finally able to maneuver his bike on his own.

I remember Lucy tenaciously deciding she was going to learn how to jump rope. She was 4 and I was watching her achieve this amazing feat as I balanced 2 year old Jonathan on my hip.

Now I’m on the other side of those Wonder Years. I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently helping Lucy fill out college applications. Wait! She just mastered jump-roping like 5 minutes ago!

To all of you young mothers out there, I have this to say: Enjoy your time with your children right now. It all goes by so quickly.

I know. You’ve heard this before. Every grandmother you meet tells you the same thing. And when you’re in the middle of sleepless nights and picking up the same toys left in the same places day in and day out, you may be questioning their sanity. Quickly? You think. No way.

Let me just reassure you, from someone who has done it and is now on the other side. Yes, it all goes by so quickly. But it’s all worth it.

Just don’t blink.

Clockwise from front left: Amy, Jon, Adam, Marta, Eric, & Lucy

Share, por favor!

By Marta on September 13, 2010 · Posted in featured, the habla habla

21 Comments | Post Comment

Tracy says:

Brought tears to my eyes because it’s so true. I have a 12 yr old and an almost 9 yr old and I’ve already realized this. It’s bittersweet.

Your family is beautiful. Hang in there and enjoy these new creatures that they’ve become – maybe they will bring us some nietos eventually. I hear those are even better than regular hijos because you get all the fun and none of the work. Something to look forward to. LOL.

Posted on September 13th, 2010

jackie says:

So needed this post, as my 3year old watches PBS kids and i am trying to get my 3 month old to sleep. Thanks for your encouragement and inspiration!

Posted on September 13th, 2010

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Posted on September 13th, 2010

Lyanis says:

Our homes, although many miles apart, are very much a like. I’m one of 4 children and I think my mom could relate a great deal to your doings as a mother. My house es una locura still, since all of my mom’s bees still live in the hive. And like your son’s friends, at times I get home and find that none of my brothers are home, yet their friends are sitting in my living room, feet up, just hanging out. I’ve heard my mother tell young mothers various times to enjoy their little ones because, as she says, “como se va el tiempo.” I think whether you plan on blinking or not, it just happens. One day you’re rocking us to sleep, and the next you’re watching us walk down an isle.
Lyanis´s last [fabulousness] ..El merengue en el Cake

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Stephanie says:

a friend once said to me regarding motherhood-the days are long, but time is short… i try to take that to heart whenever i get tired or frustrated or lose my patience. love your post. =)

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Parenting Series: Joy, Control and Perspective says:

[...] Marta, who has been a mom for 27 years,, writes about how very fast it all goes in a post titled I Blinked. Wednesday, Tracy López of Latina-ish writes on Relinquishing Control and Friday Monica [...]

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Marta says:

Thanks, Tracy.

I’m not quite ready for the nietos, but I’m already thinking about what these non-existent nietos will call me one day. Is that weird?

Besos!
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Pumpkins and Games and Googly Eyes – Oh My! A Giveaway

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Marta says:

jackie,

I feel your pain, mama! Believe me when I tell you that you’ll miss the days when holding them is enough!
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Pumpkins and Games and Googly Eyes – Oh My! A Giveaway

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Ana Lilian Flores says:

Absolutely beautiful. I am not blinking
Ana Lilian Flores´s last [fabulousness] ..Trilingual Adventures with Little Pim

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Marisa says:

Ok, maybe now I am one of your biggest fans!!!! I just read this and am crying. I have a son named Adam too! :) He is my #3. I am hoping we will have four, just like you, one day, but I suppose my husband is going to have to agree to that part!! Thanks for writing this- the days do seem long when they are little (mine are 5, 3 and 1) and just today seemed one of the longest days yet, with my husband out of town, and putting all 3 of them to sleep myself. I do have to remember that it goes by fast, already 5 years have flown by like nothing….

Posted on September 13th, 2010

Noritza says:

Thank you for sharing such a personal feeling. I am sitting here in tears..
This is so true. I have a 23 year old daughter senior in college and 13 year old son 8th grade middle school.
All I think about sometimes is where did the years go???
My house was always filled with my daughter’s girlfriends, sleep overs, tears, laughter, boys, break ups…driving them all around town whether to the movies or the mall.
Now my daughter drives me around! Where did the years go?
I keep asking myself….
My son, tee ball, to baseball, to riding bikes, to girls.. to independence…
where did all the years go???
I do remember all the spit up and sleepless nights, high fevers and runny noses. But I would not trade it for the world. It was all worth every minute of it …no matter how they tried your patience.
And I am proud to say that my son still lets me steal a kiss before he is off to school….
Where did all the years go??????

Posted on September 14th, 2010

Marcela says:

My oldest started 5th grade this year!

I feel your words Martha and admire you as a mother. I still remember meeting you (fresh & easy event I believe?) and talking to you about babywearing and breastfeeding…and seeing the close relationship you have with your daughter.

You are special and someone I look up to.
Marcela´s last [fabulousness] ..Birds- Beach- Summer

Posted on September 16th, 2010

Monica says:

Marta, this post really strikes home. Though my children are still quite young, I am amazed at how much I have already forgotten. Looking back at photo albums, I have despaired at how many of those sweet moments that I want to last forever, sometimes get lost.

Your words are a wonderful reminder of how important it is to celebrate these precious moments.

Un abrazo…
Monica´s last [fabulousness] ..Spanish Multimedia Offers Huge Selection of Videos- Music and More

Posted on September 16th, 2010

Marta says:

Thanks, Marisa!

Keep the faith, mama!
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Marta says:

Marcela,

Thanks for your kind words. I remember meeting you, too, and being impressed that you were babywearing. =D

I homeschooled my oldest when she was in 5th grade. My son was in 2nd and I was nursing a newborn. What was I thinking?? LOL.

Besos,
Marta
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Marta says:

Monica,

This is one of the reasons I blog. It helps me to get my stories written down. Maybe for posterity? Certainly for myself.

Besos,
Marta
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Marta says:

Nortiza,

Where did all the years go?

You obviously invested them in two precious lives.

Good job, mami!
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Marta says:

Thanks, Ana!
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Marta says:

Lyanis,

It sounds like your mother and I could be great friends. =D

Besos,
Marta
Marta´s last [fabulousness] ..Of IPhones and Bracelets and Best Friends Forever

Posted on September 17th, 2010

Anna says:

My grandfather is from Cuba and I remember him driving me to school everyday for 12 years and those are some of the best memories of my life. Cuban jazz music, yelling at people, driving crazy, dancing and A LOT of hand gesturing.

Now I am the mother of a beautiful two year old, Nicole, and she is the light of my life. I don’t even want to know where I would be without her. Yo soy nada sin mi babe.
Anna´s last [fabulousness] ..Removed

Posted on September 22nd, 2010

Dariela says:

Ay Marta!!! Me hiciste llorar!! What a perfect post! I’m really trying not to blink right now, I’m enjoying my baby so much, I already know I’m going to miss this and it’s been only 7 months!! At the same time I just had my boy go to Preschool for the first time and it is such a wonderful feeling, all those stages are filled with this excitement, it’s so amazing to be a parent! I love knowing you and knowing a little bit more everyday of your experiences as a parent, thanks so much for sharing, seriously, I can tell were your heart is.
Oh, and I love the pictures! Your family is beautiful! I also need to learn how to sleep sentada!!
Dariela´s last [fabulousness] ..Parenting is Relaxing

Posted on September 23rd, 2010