He’s Thrilled To Be (Almost) Five…And I’m Dogged By “Delorrow”

My “Baby”

My younger son (a.k.a. my “baby”) is going to be five soon.  Too soon.  The discussions started in October about his upcoming birthday.  At first, he was angry with me because his best friend turned five in October and he didn’t want to be four anymore.  He wanted to be five.  NOW.  He wanted me to change his birthday.

I explained that I couldn’t change his birthday, and that God wanted him to be a January baby.  His response was typical four-year-old:  “Well, then God is mean!”  After a week or so, he became more reasonable (or at least as reasonable as a four year old can be) and decided it was time to start the countdown to his birthday.

To me (a been-there/done-that adult) a countdown starts when I have a finger to represent each day that passes – not when I have to flip through several calendar pages to see the end.  I kept this to myself, and, starting in October, here is the conversation we’ve had nearly every day on the drive home from daycare:

Son: “Mommy, how many days til my birthday?”

Me:  “I’m not sure, I can’t count that high.  We have to get through Halloween first.”

Son:  “Then it will be my birthday?”

Me:  “Not quite.  Then we have to go through most of November and have Thanksgiving.”

Son: “Then it will be my birthday?”

Me: “No.  Christmas comes first.  You can start counting down to your birthday after Christmas.”

Son: “Then it will be my birthday?”

Me: “Yes, then it will be your birthday.”

Son:  <in a super-excited voice> “The day after Christmas it will be my birthday?”

Me: <sighs> “No, then we celebrate the New Year, which is on January 1st.  Your birthday comes after that.”

Of course, as each holiday passed, the conversation (thankfully) became shorter and shorter.  This week, he’s been barely able to contain himself.  Our conversation yesterday went like this:

Son:  “Mommy!  Do you know what Saturday is?”

Me:  “Yes!  It’s our day to clean house.”

Son: “No!” <laughs> “It’s my birthday party.”

Me:  “Really?  I forgot about that.”

I have vague memories of my own anticipation for birthdays, but those feelings have long-since passed.  His joy is contagious – I am excited for his birthday.  But I have to confess that I’m a little sad, too.  My “baby” is going to be five soon.  Then, later this year, he will be off to Kindergarten.  (I’ll be right back…I’m off to get the tissues.)

I can’t ignore these signs that he is growing up so fast.  My mixed emotions are confusing:  I’m proud that he’s getting more self-sufficient, happy that he’s taking on more responsibility, but (selfishly) kind of sad because this changes how he needs me.

On Saturday, none of this will matter because smiles and laughter will (temporarily) extract the sorrow from my “delorrow” (delight + sorrow) as I watch him blow out those five candles on his cake.

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30 thoughts on “He’s Thrilled To Be (Almost) Five…And I’m Dogged By “Delorrow”

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:38 PM

      Thank you, Maimoona! I know he will have so much fun being five. I will adjust…

  1. duke1959 January 7, 2011 / 7:46 AM

    Happy Birthday to him. It is something as we age the excitement about birthdays seem to fade.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:40 PM

      I agree, Duke. The sad thing is that I can’t think of anything that I get so excited about. I guess age mellowed me in general 🙂

  2. nrhatch January 7, 2011 / 8:08 AM

    Hope the delight outweighs all else. Enjoy!

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:41 PM

      Thanks, Nancy! I’ll try to forget for a little while that he’s growing up 🙂

  3. Richard W Scott January 7, 2011 / 8:45 AM

    Wonderful, poignant post. It is clear why you needed to coin a term to describe your feelings. While we cannot put a stake in time, while we cannot even slow its march, we can, as you have decided, take every bit of joy and meaning possible from it.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:44 PM

      Thank you for your comment, Richard. I like how you worded it – we do have to take every bit of joy and meaning. Sometimes it would be nice to have a “pause” option, but I suppose it would get over-used (at least in my case anyway!)

  4. Aligaeta January 7, 2011 / 9:10 AM

    I feel your “delorrow” and it will pass. Now beware, as the baby is getting ready to go off to school your maternal instincts may make you a little nuts thinking you want another baby, crowding that house beyond what’s possibly tolerable and prolonging your freedom FIVE more years!

    I don’t want to hear how eerie my warning sounds… your at the first stage of empty nest, just thought someone should tell you. : )

    Remember: Intellect over Emotion.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:48 PM

      I almost choked on my gum when I read your comment, Aligaeta! I haven’t lost my senses enough to think that I want another baby! I just wish I could have the 3-5 years a little longer – they have been my favorite.

      I will accept this as a natural passage into the next phases of being a parent….and I do not wish to repeat it with another child 😉 (I know I don’t have the patience for any more, and I so admire those who do!)

      • Aligaeta January 7, 2011 / 4:55 PM

        When the ‘freshie’, my youngest was little she asked me if I was going to have another baby, my answer was this… “I tried to have a baby four times and you all grow up. I’m not going to be fooled again!”

        • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 9:10 PM

          Great answer – I really like that, Aligaeta! I have a hard time with two. I honestly don’t know how you handle four.

          God didn’t bless me with nearly enough patience. Luckily, I don’t long for the baby stage (middle-of-the-night feedings, diapers, etc.) so I’ll just get past this stage rather than go for a re-do!

  5. Amanda Hoving January 7, 2011 / 10:12 AM

    I’ve had many bouts of delorrow. You’ll make it. Keep the tissues close at hand.

    Hope it’s a great day!

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:49 PM

      I’ve got the purse pack of tissues ready to go, Amanda. It actually is good to know that I’m not crazy and this appears to be normal. Thank you for that affirmation!

  6. Tim Weaver January 7, 2011 / 10:25 AM

    I don’t even remember being five. 🙂

    I have a recollection of a singular even when I was three…but don’t know if it actually happened because I forget to ask my mom, who wasn’t even there at the time…and some flits of memories on a playground in the town I lived in before we moved to the home I grew up in (if that makes sense). My “main” memories start at about 7 years of age.

    Happy birthday to the both of you. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 4:51 PM

      Thanks, Tim! I’m sure he will only remember the traumatic things (or the mistakes I’ve made as a parent) when he gets older. But I know he will have a happy birthday anyway.

  7. Clar January 7, 2011 / 5:20 PM

    This post was precious. It brought all the memories flooding back to when my now grown boys who are really young men were at that age. Raising children is a very bittersweet process. And now I need them and they so don’t need me. boo hoo.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 9:14 PM

      I already think about that, Clar. I’ve told my husband that I worry about them marrying girls who don’t like me and then I won’t see them very much. He just looks at me like I’m crazy, because that’s a long way down the line. Oh well, I guess I just like to get a jump-start on the worrying.

      By the way, I’m sure they do need you, but just in different ways than you’re used to being needed. I have to believe that, after all of the years of bonding, they can’t leave that easily!

  8. Carol Ann Hoel January 7, 2011 / 5:58 PM

    Happy birthday to your baby. Ha! Five! What a beautiful child. Blessings to you…

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 9:22 PM

      Thanks, Carol! I think my kids are beautiful, but I may be just a little bit biased 😉 (I believe that’s part of my duties as a mom…)

  9. chlost January 7, 2011 / 7:12 PM

    I have maintained for some time now (since I have had children, anyway), that birthdays should be celebrations for the moms just as much as for the children. It is our day, too!
    Five is such a special age. A little smarts, a lot of naivete, and lots of love.
    But I will admit that as much as I enjoyed those years, I have enjoyed adult children at least as much, if not more. It is so exciting to see the people your children become, the results of your job as a parent.
    Eat lots of cake and ice cream, and take a lot of pictures!!

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2011 / 9:25 PM

      I guess it is our day too. I hadn’t thought about that before. Thank you for your thoughts about your adult children. It’s hard for me to picture what that relationship would be like, but your comment gives me hope that it can still be a special relationship.

      I may have to skip the cake and ice cream (I will explain in a future post), but I’ll take tons of pictures 😉

  10. Artswebshow January 8, 2011 / 2:54 AM

    I used to do that to my parents all the time. lol

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2011 / 12:19 PM

      I always wondered if they were TRYING to drive me nuts…now I know 🙂

      I’m just teasing. I know the excitement is almost too much for them to handle, so I try not to get too annoyed!

  11. suzicate January 8, 2011 / 7:42 AM

    So cute! The birthday countdown is almost paramount to the “are we there yet” countdown…yes enjoy the innocent sweetness, they grow up so quickly. But the good thing is that little boys always love their Mamas, even when they grow up!

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2011 / 12:24 PM

      To me, the ‘are we there yet’ is the worst. Over Thanksgiving, a five hour car ride turned into nearly 8 hours because of lane restrictions on the Interstate. After two hours in the car, they started asking if we were almost there, but we hadn’t even gotten out of town. Arggggghhh!

      I’ve heard that boys often stay close to their moms…I do hope that’s the case! Thanks for showing me the bright side, Suzicate 🙂

  12. Addy January 8, 2011 / 11:12 PM

    OMG! So true Janna! I still remember that I used to count the days or rather months to my B’day ( STill Do 😉 ) He He.. But I guess its just the inner child in us that wants to jump out and frolic but as adults we are bound by “societal rules”!!!

    Wishing your son a Happy B’day from my side as well!
    Best Wishes,
    Addy

    • jannatwrites January 9, 2011 / 3:04 PM

      Thanks, Addy! His immense excitement is a great balance to my sadness/apprehension at the event. He will get me to come around and be thoroughly excited. I just know it 🙂

  13. bookjunkie January 17, 2011 / 3:02 AM

    your son is just too cute!! Isn’t it strange how we can’t wait for our birthday’s to arrive when we were little and then 29 comes around and we don’t want to turn 30. I just turned 40 but I was not sweating 41. After going over that bridge, 41 seems young.

    • jannatwrites January 17, 2011 / 3:14 AM

      Thank you! I haven’t liked birthdays for about five years now, but I did a post on that in July. (It’s more about memories than the actual piling on of years.) But I can tell you that even before that, I wasn’t counting down the days until my birthday 🙂 I have a friend who will be 40 soon, and she’s not happy about it. I’ll let her know that I heard 41 is a piece of (birthday) cake!

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