The first years
When I had a two-year-old and a new baby, people would tell me, “Enjoy these days. They go by fast.”
These words of advice were shared with good intentions. They were shared by lots of people over and over again. While I believed their words 100%, every single time someone looked at my tired face and repeated this phrase to me, it never made me feel better. It made me feel guilty for not enjoying the sleepless nights, the inconsolable baby, and all the developmental milestones. I am not advocating that people don’t say this to parents of young children, but it was really hard to absorb in the chaos.
Those days were hard. Really hard. They were also filled with great memories and I love sharing stories with my now five and seven-year-old about their baby stages, but I haven’t reached the point that I miss that stage.
Sometimes when I see a baby I get flashbacks of crying at my desk because I hadn’t slept in weeks. Those are the real moments right alongside the first words, first steps, and baby hugs. Once I had two babies, there is a lot that I simply don’t remember. I need the pictures to remind me.
The Sweet Spot
The sleepless nights and threenager years have grown into something that feels like a reward. For me, I think I found the sweet spot in this adventure. Now that my kids are five and seven, taking family vacations are fun, dinner time is full of interesting, humorous conversations, playtime includes golfing contests, board games, and imaginary play, and we have not hit the crazy kid schedule of lots of homework and activities that soak up weeknights. And they can now buckle their own seatbelts and play by themselves if needed!
They still love me openly and in public without being embarrassed by me – even running from the baseball dugout to get a hug in between innings. I want to bottle all of this up, because as I have been told over and over again, “Enjoy these days. They go by fast.”
Absorb the Adventure
The one thing that is constant in life is change and I might not be in this sweet spot forever. Many of the same people have also offered this advice when I share my sweet spot sentiments, “Just wait for the teen years,” and “Your schedule will soon be dictated by the humans you created and nurtured.” Their nostalgia for the teen years is not the same as the baby years.
I don’t want to wish away any time with my children or dread the next stage. I guess this is my not-so-trendy way of being “in the moment”. I want to absorb the parenting adventure while preparing them for life’s adventures. (I also know that my sweet spot might not be someone else’s sweet spot and that my family is lucky to have our health and prosperity.)
It took some time and some much-needed sleep, but I absorbed those words of advice from well-intentioned friends, family, and strangers. While not every moment or stage is all roses and rainbows, the moments I have with my children are precious and I know that every minute that goes by will not be granted again. Those minutes are gone, but they are not forgotten.
And maybe, just maybe, the sweet spot will last forever.