I Know It Goes By So Fast, Dammit

34 Comments

I Know It Goes By So Fast, Dammit

I was in a public parking lot, trying to get my starving, exhausted, tantrum-throwing kids into the car when a little old lady tottered up to me and said, “Enjoy it while they’re little! It goes by so fast!”

I looked up at her as I was karate chopping my son’s stiff-as-a-board body into his car seat and gave her a smile. A smile that said, “I want to strangle you.”

I wanted to strangle her because it’s true. It does go by so fast. And I know I should be enjoying every minute of it.

BUT I CAN’T.

I can’t because raising young kids isn’t always enjoyable. Sometimes it is—there are precious moments of absolute parental bliss. Moments when my son places a chubby hand over my larger, dishwash-weary hand and asks me to play with him. Moments when my daughter blows me a kiss that I catch and tuck into my heart under my shirt. Moments when the three of us snuggle head-to-head-to-head reading a book.

But a lot of the time having young kids sucks.

It’s relentless and boring and exhausting and infuriating. And the fact that I’m not loving every tantrum-filled, pooped-smeared, yogurt-coated, sleep-deprived moment makes me panic. Because it’s going by so fast.

The days of my children’s childhoods are slipping through my hands faster than E. coli-infested sand and I know I’m not enjoying it enough, lady in the parking lot, so please don’t remind me.

When I creep into my kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep, my heart fills with love and peace … and regret. Regret that we didn’t all enjoy the day that just ended more.

I know one day the pain of it all will fade and I’ll look back with a rosy tinge and think to myself, “I really enjoyed when my kids were little. It all went by so fast.”

But the one thing I promise to never do, is stop a young mom in a parking lot and tell her to enjoy it. Tell her it that all goes so fast.

Instead I’ll tell her that I know raising young kids is hard.

I’ll tell her it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to scream. It’s OK to fall to pieces at 5pm when the kids are pushing her every last button. I’ll tell her to breathe. I’ll tell her to hide in the bathroom if she needs to. I’ll tell her to laugh at the insanity that is her life. And I’ll tell her to kiss her baby’s toes, not because they won’t be little forever, but because it will bring her a moment of joy in her otherwise insane, chaotic day.

Related post: To the Unwashed Masses of Mothers

Comments

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  1. 1

    shell26b says

    So true, my son is one and the first year wasn’t bliss. Everyone would say treasure these years it goes by so fast……but I wasn’t feeling it. This article really hit home for me.

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  2. 2

    Suzi says

    I couldn’t have said it better! I love my sons so very much, but they are doing their damndest to drive me into a mental ward! And it’s always in one of those “challenging” moments when someone tells you, “they grow up so fast!” I’ve often been tempted to reply, “Thank God!”

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  3. 3

    Emma says

    Yes. Thank you for this. My kids are all “big kids” now (9, 12 and 13) and lately I’ve been feeling bad because I keep reading stuff about treasuring the baby years and savouring every moment. I adored my little children, of course I did, but oh my god, they were hard years! Yes, they did go by fast, but it’s not like you suddenly stop having lovely moments with your children once they are past a certain age. And believe me, the day I got rid of the last damn baby seat with all those freaking buckles was the happiest day of my life!!

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  4. 5

    Outsmarted Mommy says

    Yes! This! Nailed it. The years may go by fast but the days can feel so long. It’s overwhelming and being reminded that we should be enjoying every flipping second of it is never helpful. LOVE THIS POST!

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  5. 6

    Mary says

    Grandchildren are the reward for not murdering our offspring. Hold on to the hope, mom. Someday they’ll have kids who act JUST LIKE THEM, and you’ll be able to spoil them and really enjoy those moments, because grandkids can be handed off to their parents. Sweet revenge. ;)
    #LookingForwardToIt
    #JustLikeMyMom

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  6. 7

    VeteranMom says

    I don’t think we’re supposed to enjoy every minute. I think as long as we enjoy the overall experience and take happy memories from every stage of their lives, that’s good. Being able to look back and laugh at the bad memories is even better. And having grandbabies is the best of all. I think that you CAN enjoy every minute of that! My kids are 25. 23. 16. and 14, I have one grandson and a granddaughter due any minute (!), and I promise that, even though it doesn’t really get easier to be a mom, it does get to be less menial and deal less with bodily fluids.

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  7. 8

    jezebel says

    Tell a mom nothing. Because at that moment, she doesn’t want any advice, sympathy or empathy. She doesn’t want anyone noticing her, she just wants to go home and take a nap. Every mom is doing the best they can and should never regret a “bad day”. Those bad days are shaping their little ones, teaching them rules, boundaries, respect and patience. Moms too. Look back and smile and laugh, don’t regret. It’s all good. And I have always disliked anyone telling me “it goes by fast” and to “enjoy my kids”. I tell them the same thing if they have kids, no matter how old. “enjoy your teenagers, they grow up too quick”. How would they like that? “enjoy your grade schooler, it goes by fast.” Life… Life goes by fast.

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    • 9

      AllisonB says

      Absolutely. No need to say anything. I’m 39, worked since age 17, travelled etc., but now that I have a baby everyone thinks they have the right to tell me how to care for my child without me asking. I’m tired of that! I know time flies, I know my kid is crying because she’s hungry or tired, Im the mom and I am capable of caring and enjoying my baby.

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  8. 10

    jessica says

    Hmmmm… not to dismiss the frustration of “one of those days” which is certainly its own experience , but what I get from those comments is a desire for connection, to reach out and hold both the mother and child in that place of universality that is the experience of motherhood. My oldest is 20 and my youngest is 3 months with four others in between. When I’m out with just the baby I will have folks tell me to savor it and how fast it goes, but I share their sentimentality as I contemplate the ever more separate lives my olders are forging. I think they are trying to share, no, gift us something. And even if the present is ill timed or not of our taste I think there is a way to appreciate the thoughtfulness…. just as you know that ugly sweater was lovingly picked out be your great grandmother. You can take the love and pass on the sweater.

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    • 11

      Molly says

      I like your post. The only part I disagree with is the ability to find a way to appreciate the thoughtfulness. It’s hard to do anything or think about anyone else at a time like this. My frustration with my little one usually gets stuffed down deep until I get let loose on the punching bag at the gym, however, if someone should cross my path and utter something in my direction, I might accidentally shoot them daggers. Then feel bad about it later. But I see your point and agree with you. People are connecting. Remembering. Missing those baby days they once had.

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    • 12

      Daniella says

      I am a mom of boy/girl twins with a 9 year old boy, I totally understand the craziness the days have to offer. Jessica, I totally agree with what you are saying. The older generation is wiser than we are. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not stopped every 5 minutes asked questions, given comments or advice, when they are antsy or not. I take it all in, sometimes it resets my state of mind and reminds me to find the positive in the situation because it does go by fast. All mothers go through it and I take these words as people are trying to tell you that as well as let you know that you will survive. It’s not always the best timing, but even a fake smile, not daggers, will make you feel better for a moment. The younger generation thinks they know everything and the older generation is out-dated, but I believe the opposite. They are the survivors and are now wishing they had enjoyed it more. We will all do the same thing, if we don’t already…. just like the lessons we’ve learned growing up that we now teach our own kids. Older people that stop you at the wrong time are just showing you they care. Accept it and appreciate it, society needs more positive people.

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    • 13

      AlsoJessica says

      I don’t understand why people have to take everything so damn personally. The old lady wasn’t mocking her or trying to be negative in any way. It was subtle encouragement. It was a positive thought. People today are so self-centered that everything anybody says has to be countered with a cynical “woe-is-me” attitude. The more blogs I read about people being offended over every little thing, the less I talk to people.

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  9. 14

    says

    This definitely resonates with me. My boys are now 3 & 6, and I must say that I don’t miss the baby/toddler days. For me, it gets easier and more enjoyable. Yes, I like looking back at baby photos, but I don’t hark back AT ALL. I know this is an unusual sentiment, but I also feel that the last 6 years have lasted a long, long time! Middle childhood rocks ;-)

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  10. 15

    Cristina says

    I agree 100%!! I was shopping recently and my son began to scream because he’d had enough, and I passed another mom who’s toddler was also losing it. I made eye contact with her and smiled, then she smiled, then I laughed, and so did she. It was so awesome because we totally understood the chaos of each other’s lives. No advice given, no head shake, no judging. Just understanding. My day got better from then on simply because I felt less alone in my struggles. Great post, thanks for sharing!!

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  11. 17

    Robyn says

    I know exactly how you feel – my 2.5 year old pushes those buttons right at bedtime…but when we’re snuggling with the lights off, I rock him just an extra minute or 5 because my sister lost her daughter at just 6 years old and I’d give anything for her to have those few extra minutes with her baby. I try to appreciate all of the good times AND the bad because I know she’d give anything to spend just a few more minutes with her daughter (good or bad).

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  12. 18

    themeansmustbe the end says

    God bless the lady who spoke and gave you a pause. Maybe she intervened to give the children a moment that she saw YOU needed.
    It amazes me how many people dislike being told an elderly person’s feelings as if it is about them – instead of the children and/or their own expression.
    Me, me, me.. Validate the other.

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  13. 20

    Dianer0839 says

    I am a Grandma. When my boys were little, I spent my time working and making a home for my little blessings. I had 4 miscarriages before my first Son was born, something I thought would never happen. I had given up that a child was in my future. I watched painfully as my family and friends gave birth, always the favorite Aunt but never Mom. My situation was different since I was no longer young, my kids remember picnics under the table and the decorated refrigerator box that stood in the corner of the living room. You see, I learned everything about being a Mom by watching everyone else and was determined to be the Mom that put dinner in the oven and went out to play. My Grandkids know that I always play, everything can wait for another day but making memories have to happen now.

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  14. 23

    motb58 says

    My children are all grown…it is a sad time in my
    life. They have thousands of books on
    how to raise children, from every phase, infancy & up…and yet VERY little
    written about how to parent an adult child.
    Many of you reading this will not get what I’m talking about, because as
    young parents you have not reached this threshold of parenthood. Give the old woman a break. I truly believe she met no harm nor did she
    lack understanding of what caring for and raising young children entails, I
    know I haven’t forgotten. As I now look
    at my adult children, remembering their
    childhoods, I often wish there had been
    more “childhood” time, because looking back, I ask where did time go, wishing I
    had “enjoyed” the good and bad times more, and realizing how fast “it” goes by. I have a feeling when this old woman spoke, these exact thoughts were going through her mind.

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  15. 24

    Amy says

    The world feels like a less kind place when people have to take offense at kind and good natured comments. I been tempted to say the same thing as this little only. Not because I’m trying to teach a young mom a lesson but because the feeling of longing and missing those moments – even struggling with a tired toddler is so intense. Maybe next time open your heart to the older mom’s experience instead of looking for offense and assuming you know how she feels or how you’ll do it better someday.

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  16. 25

    PBLear says

    Please consider that you’re being rather self-centered and self-righteous. One of those “little old ladies” could be your mother or grandmother. Consider that we have fond memories of the days when we were raising children and we miss our kids who have grown up & moved on to live their own lives. I know those kids keep you ridiculously busy, but try to be a bit more sensitive – - if you smiled at that “old lady” and just acknowledge her, you might make her day. What a gift that would be.

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