My sister-in-law recently had a baby; she now has three children 4 and under. It’s caused me to watch other new moms, remembering just what it’s like to have a handful of young children close together, punctuated with a newborn. And because my own children are just 6, 4, and 3, I empathize with the women who get little sleep, no down time, and the occasional patch of mastitis. To all of you out there, I’ve got one thing to say: neener, neener, neener.
Truth is, time hasn’t changed too much around here. We own one car seat and two boosters, carry diapers on long trips, and get a little excited when we have just cause to administer Benadryl. Timeout is still a popular activity at my house and my youngest still thinks the toilet is a decoration. We’re all in this together.
When Zack was born, Kaleb was three (to the day) and Leah was almost two. Ever since then the most common piece of advice I get is, “Enjoy them while they’re young; they grow up before you know it.” I’ll be honest; I’ve been known to respond, “Then grow up already” a time or two under my breath.
When Kaleb was just a baby, I was an awkward and self-conscious new mom, questioning practically everything I did. From discipline to television monitoring, the gray areas of parenting seemed vast. But regardless of my insecurities, there were sublime moments that were completely and joyfully unquestionable. Kissing an owie better, carrying a sleeping child to bed, pushing a child in a swing, tucking a child in, reading a bedtime story, and putting on and taking off tiny tennis shoes.
I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news? This will all be over before we know it. The bad? This will all be over before we know it.
Lately I’ve had micro-panic attacks where I realize my children have outgrown some of those sublime moments. Kaleb’s gotten so big that I struggle with his weight and can’t carry him gracefully to bed. Most of the time I have to volunteer to kiss the owie, and both Kaleb and Leah can get their shoes on and off by themselves. I’ve had to find new moments to treasure. These days I help with homework, send children off to school with a kiss and a wave, go to soccer games, console children when their feelings get hurt, and watch the occasional sloppy go at an ice cream cone. There’s a part of me that misses those younger moments because I know that in parenting you can only move forward and never back (although if you suggest I have another baby I may hyperventilate).
So to all you mothers out there, regardless of whether your children are young or old, many or few, biological or adopted, I wish you a Happy Mothers Day. Maybe, just maybe, it can be a day where we celebrate the joys of motherhood rather than berate ourselves for not measuring up. And maybe it can also be a day where you get some rest, take some time for yourself, and treasure the moments you do have. Enjoy!