Having children who are so close together gives me the opportunity to enjoy pretty much all of the ages and stages of early childhood at once. It's a time of great richness and joy. IF you have a moment's peace to actually notice how amazing each individual and each age is. And therein lays the trick.
I'm striving to "stop and smell the roses" (or sometimes the actual Rose) these days. Just trying to get enough alone time and distance to actually observe and enjoy my children, rather then just be trampled and depleted by their various needs. Ironically it is often leaving them that really helps me to appreciate them. Not always but often. If I take one hour "off" after Daddy gets home from work then I, believe it or not, enjoy bedtime and all of their bedtime delaying techniques, snuggles, snail-paced teeth brushing, stories of the days events and plans for the next day and what they want for Christmas (does that end at some point in the year or is it year-round?).
Another way that I've been learning the art of seeing them, not just being with them, is to read articles, books and blogs of older mothers who have learned by experience that this time is as brief as it is intense. In the middle of the apparent chaos of life in a home where there is a ratio of children to adult that no daycare center would allow (at least for the majority of our waking hours) there is also a simplicity. They are a pack of little bodies - careening around with reckless abandon.; they are a bundle of sheer enthusiasm; they are very easily impressed (Daddy can jump up and TOUCH the ceiling!!!); they are still awed by God's great, beautiful world; a pack of M&Ms can fix any problem; they all eat the same five foods (oatmeal, hot dogs, pizza, mac&cheese, and chicken nuggets); I can wash all of their tiny clothes for a week in one load; they can "ride their bikes" for an hour straight just traveling the length of one house; going to a McDonald's playplace satisfies everyone's need for exertion; they all want to sit right next to me, all the time. Ahhhh. If only there were time to really know these things about them.
Well, time must be made because, for me, it is in realizing these things that peace resides. And one thing that we are quite short on in this house is peace. Who ever knew any child under 6 to be peaceful, let alone four of them?
I will not always have the joy of watching a five-year old learn to read and draw blueprints of his forts before he builds them. I will not always have the joy of watching the complete dearness of a three-year-old girl twirl in her billowy dress in the spring. I will not always have the joy of hugging a 1.5 year old's precious Winnie-the-pooh shaped body and feel him pat me on the back in return-affection. I will not always have the joy watching a sweet pink baby's face completely light up with a smile at the sound of my voice.
And it is very likely that I will never again be able to enjoy all of these things in the exact same minute. "The days are long, but the years are short." And peace does actually reside here, if you can just see it through the chaos.