One thing I love about living in a smaller town is the sense of community we have. This past Friday evening we went to the high school football game to cheer on our team (and also…let’s be honest…get the kids out of the house and burn off some energy). Our oldest found some friends and went off to run and play while my husband and I tried to corral the two younger yahoos. Although…the youngest kept getting her baby jeggings caught in the bottom part of the fence wire, so for a while she was held hostage, which wasn’t all bad.
“M” was doing her baby thing and crawling as quickly as she could, only to pause (very briefly) kick her leg out and spin on her hip, changing her momentum to catapult herself in the opposite direction, almost causing a hungry teen to spill his nachos (his swift feet still amaze me, I’m not sure how he managed to miss tripping over her!). As we were giggling over the near disaster, another mom came up and shared the “cherish every moment, they grow up so fast,” advice to me. I know people mean well, but when you’re running off of 3 hours of sleep, trying to console a teething baby, another who woke up twice with nightmares, and still another who just hates sleep (how is this my child?!) … the “cherish every moment,” is a hard pill to swallow. I get it. They’re little. They’re squishy. They’re very cute (and of course, I’m biased because I helped make them). But sometimes that phrase rubs me the wrong way. To me, (especially when I’m sleep deprived and a little bitter over the lack of said sleep) it makes it seem like parenting at this phase is “easy” and everything is cupcakes and rainbows because they’re so itty bitty and precious.
Truth be told, I’m looking forward to a full nights rest one day.
I’m looking forward to not spending 10 minutes chopping up grapes before dinner so my daughters don’t choke on them, only to have half of them thrown on the floor for me to pick up (or forget to pick up until they’ve become raisins) later.
I’m looking forward to not having to wrestle my children into their carseats every time I want to leave the house. When we can just hop in and go, without having to plan an extra 20 minutes of “pack up” time. Let’s not even get started on the abomination that is winter where after you’ve finally arrived at your destination, you have to use all your might to squeeze each of them into a puffy, warm coat before entering the frigid cold air. Man, I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it.
I’m looking forward to pawning off cleaning the toilets to one of my offspring. I’ve done my time, now it’s yours. Scrubby, scrubby!
I’m looking forward to them being able to articulate what’s wrong when they don’t feel well, so I can help them feel better.
I’m looking forward to going on a date with my husband and not having to find a sitter.
I’m looking forward to not watching annoying children’s cartoons. Every. Single. Day.
This past weekend, I also got a glimpse into the beauty of watching our children grow up as our oldest sat on the floor playing with his sisters, opened his arms, and asked them “Wanna snuggle?” And both of them instantly leaned into him, wrapped their arms around him and they hugged. For a moment there was no fighting over toys, there was no screaming absurd animal noises as they chase each other in another round of “predator and prey,” (we watch a lot of National Geo., remember?) and my husband and I could just look at them and marvel at their innocence and love for one another.
I’m looking forward to watching my children grow into kind, compassionate, caring individuals. Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that what we all want as moms? The process is bitter-sweet and the gradual letting go and watching them gain their own independence and freedom, when they no longer need mom to “Wipe my butt! I pooped!” or “Can we snuggle before bed?”, can be heart wrenching.
I have no idea (yet) what it’s like to parent a child whose been excluded from the birthday party, or the child who didn’t make the team, or the child who is going through puberty. Those will be challenging, not doubt about it. Honestly, whatever phase of parenting you’re in, it’s hard because it’s uncharted territory and we all just want to do the best we can.
So, for all you veteran moms reading this who find themselves in a state of lethargy remembering the days of chubby cheeks and the sweet smell of a clean baby after bath…
Instead of encouraging those of us who are “in the trenches” (as I’ve heard it described before) with “cherish these moments, they grow so fast,” offer us a smile, an encouraging word, and a cup of coffee (maybe an extra shot of espresso). Because those chubby cheeks you see just might be hiding gums that are cutting one year molars and bath night was caused by the spaghetti dinner that ended up more on them and the walls than in their bellies. Yes, we are cherishing these moments, but there’s also a lot to look forward to. Tell us about all of the great things to come, share your wisdom with us. No phase of parenting is better than another (maybe some are more enjoyable, but all are important). All have their challenges. All have their joys.