At 47 years old, I am keenly aware that time is moving at a rapid rate. Yesterday I was cleaning up diaper blowouts and trying to figure out how to breastfeed. Today I’m buying shaving cream for my son and bras for my daughter.
I have two summers left before my daughter finishes high school and ventures out on her own, most likely in a van traveling to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn. Yes, she wants to see it.
My boy is testing his limits and surrounding himself with friends instead of me. Answers to my questions come in the form of grunts. If he asks for anything it is for cash, sandwiches or hair product. He seems to think he is going to live in our basement when he’s an adult. Thankfully we don’t have a basement. He says he wants to be an accountant but he can’t hold on to money because the lure of video games is strong.
My daughter wants to study criminology. I guess all my binge watching of British crime dramas has paid off. She loves musicals and AC/DC. She’s already designing her first apartment. She’s been working two jobs this summer and is saving for a car.
My son has been mowing lawns over the summer and hosting sleep overs with his friends. He’s tells his sister to “Fuck off.” He’s shaving and wearing skinny jeans. He wears size 11 in men’s shoes and the days of calling us Mama and Daddy are long gone.
Every day feels surreal to me. How did this go so fast?
My kids are needing less of me as they become more independent. As a mother, this is hard to fully comprehend. While in many ways there is relief from knowing they can successfully wipe their own butts and make themselves food, there is also sorrow because the days of their innocent youth are becoming a thing of the past.
When my kids were toddlers, I was often told by those older and wiser than myself to, “Savor the time,” “Enjoy this moment,” and “Hold on to every second because it will go so fast.” At the time, I was deep in the trenches with two colicky babies under the age of two. The only thing I wanted to savor was the pleasure of throwing a sippy cup at their well meaning heads.
Yes, I admit. It goes fast. I’m here to tell you. The cliché is true.
I want to absorb every minute of my daughter’s mood swings, my son’s opposition to facial cleanser, their messy bedrooms, overflowing laundry bins and empty cookie packages left in the pantry. I want to give my son hugs even though he pulls away. I want to cry with my daughter as we watch episodes of Queer Eye together. Lately, every moment matters.
I miss days bent over animal themed floor puzzles with my son, his brows furrowed in concentration. I miss teaching my little daughter how to measure flour and the joy on her face when it came time to add chocolate chips to the cookie batter. I miss our bedtime songs, library story time and nightly rituals of reading books together. Those little glimpses of a life well lived come to me in the night and I’m humbled by the privilege it has been to raise my children. Yes, I wish I had embraced those moments with more gratitude. I was just so damn tired, it was hard to feel anything other than the primal urge to sleep. It’s taken me awhile but I get it now and I’m so thankful for the memories we have made together. Looking back I’m realizing it was the little things that meant the most.
I know many parents of younger kids are frazzled, counting the hours until bedtime and wondering if they can get through a vomit free night. From stepping on Legos with bare feet to unclogging a toilet due to a flushed action figure, they might wonder what the survival rate is for parents of toddlers. I could tell them even though their house will eventually be quiet (and clean), it will also be empty. I could tell them the Legos they once stepped on will eventually be in a storage tote in the garage. I could tell them it will be the small joys that hold the fondest memories, not necessarily the Disneyland trips.
Instead I keep this to myself because I don’t want a sippy cup thrown at MY head, like I was tempted to do all those years ago. Unless we are willing to stay up with their kid all night or clean up projectile vomit, we really don’t have the right. Parents will find out soon enough. Besides, even in the midst of all the wreckage, parents intuitively know how to enjoy moments. That’s why God created Netflix and boxed beverages.
Or if you can’t refrain from verbal diarrhea, at least order them dinner or Starbucks and have Uber Eats deliver it to their door.