You know those cliché remarks you hear when you’re a parent with young kids?
“Oh, they grow up so fast!”
“You need to soak up these moments.”
“You’re really going to miss this!”
We’ve all heard them. We do our best to remain polite listeners, but surely find ourselves holding back eyerolls as we dismiss the advice. We sigh as we count down the hours until naptime so that we can have a break from the chaos. Can you relate to this stage of crazy? A stage that finds you standing in the kitchen as you try to make lunch amongst requests for more milk, more grapes, more this and more that. A stage of guilt because when one child needs you, they all need you and you can only fit so many kids on your lap or in your arms. A stage of anxiety because when one child is melting down, they’re all melting down and you no longer can hear yourself think as you break up fights over who gets the pink cup versus the blue cup. This is a stage in which we need more hands. More time. More coffee. More patience. More sleep.
I validate you momma, this stage is rough and not a role in which you can always embrace with a smile on your face. Just recently, I was on the interstate, driving home from my in-law’s house when I noticed a particularly unpleasant smell coming from the back seat. I glanced into the rearview mirror and to my horror, saw my 2-year-old son’s hands covered in a mysterious brown substance (Yeah, you and I both know what that was). I spent some of the longest 10 minutes of my life as a mother, frantically searching for an exit while simultaneously throwing wipes into the backseat and pleading with him to keep his hands away from his face. I did finally find an exit and it was in that moment that I dealt with one of the most repulsive circumstances I’ve experienced thus far as a parent. I won’t go into any more details, but I can assure you, this was not a moment I could ‘embrace with a smile’.
Here’s the deal though… that 2-year-old boy just recently started potty training which means soon (I hope), I won’t have to deal with any more messy diapers or blowout circumstances. My 3-year-old daughter just recently entered the phase of, “I can do it!”, which means I’m needed less because she insists on proving her independence. My 5-year-old daughter just recently transitioned from being a preschooler to a kindergartner which means I now must trust a building full of adults I don’t know to teach and protect my sweet girl.
Big accomplishments. Exciting changes. Milestone moments that will soon be memories to look back upon.
Let this be a gentle reminder that time is, in fact, passing. Eventually, we will recognize that those people who forewarned us with all their cliché phrases were wiser than we realized. It may not be today, or tomorrow, or even next year… but sometime, we will blink and when we do, we won’t recognize the child standing in front of us. We will wonder when our sweet sleeping babies became walking talking toddlers. We’ll wonder when those walking talking toddlers became curious little children. We’ll wonder when those curious little children became super cool teenagers too embarrassed to hold our hands. We’ll blink and suddenly find miniature versions of ourselves standing before us as brave, independent, young adults ready to take on the world.
While I’m sure we can all agree that this stage is crazy and chaotic and messy and overwhelming and all the things… we must also recognize that it is simply that… a stage. A phase. A time in our life that is not forever. Yes, we’re all exhausted right now by the relentless needs and demands of our little toddler tornadoes, but soon we will find those sleepless nights to be replaced with empty silence and those messy floors to be replaced with uninterrupted dust.
It’s ok to continue counting down the hours until naptime and bedtime. It’s ok to need a break. It’s ok to be exhausted. But let me offer you a cliché reminder to embrace the fatigue, welcome the mess, accept the overdrive, enjoy the chaos, and let go of the worries. Our goal as parents is not to be there forever. Our greatest accomplishment as parents will be to look at our once young, naïve children and recognize that we have raised happy, competent, independent adults.
And you know what? When we reach that point… we may even find ourselves stopping young parents, forewarning them to slow down, reminding them that time flies, and laughing at ourselves as we recite those same cliché phrases that made us once roll our eyes.