I think, as adults, we all kind of realize at different points how quickly time is passing by. And it seems so cliche to comment on it, but we still do, because it never ceases to take us by surprise.
I was talking with some of my mommy friends the other night about how sometimes, looking back on my kids' baby years makes me slightly sad. It's a bittersweet feeling. I love everything about watching them grow and become who they are today, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them being small. Those babies they were--they meant the world to me. And the kids they are now do as well. It's just such a indescribable feeling because I'm excited for the future and longing for the past at the same time. I wish I had the ability to scoop those babies up and kiss them one more time. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and savor the moments even more than I already did. I wish I could sit up another night with one of them and instead of thinking about how little sleep I was getting, be thinking about how little time I was going to have with them that small and making the most of it.
But I can't. I can only try to savor each moment now--but is that truly possible?
We hear "live in the moment" as moms, as adults, all the time. It's not simply a parenting thing. We're reminded every day about how quickly the time is passing by us, and how "these are the best days of our lives". We're told that these moments won't ever be relived, so we should embrace them or else we'll find ourselves looking back regretfully at how much we took for granted.
But here's the thing--it's not possible to love every single second of the day. It truly isn't. We are human and we're going to get upset, frustrated, and tired. It's not possible to sit with a sleeping baby in your arms, every night, completely exhausted and not think at all about how much you'd just love to go to sleep for 18 hours straight. It's not possible to never get overwhelmed or upset with the tantrums, with the yelling, with the constant questions.
As a whole, we appreciate the puzzle that is our lives. But that doesn't mean every single piece fills us with joy. And that's okay.
Nostalgia just works to prove to us that these troubling times will soon pass, as well. When we look back on those baby days, we don't remember the feeling of desperation during the sleepless nights and the feelings of complete helplessness during the meltdowns quite like we remember the sweet smell of their baby skin and the gorgeous cooing sound of their laughter. We're not wishing that we could exchange these times for those, we're reminding ourselves that there is no time like the present. We're proving to ourselves that the days are long and the years are so short, and that every moment is a piece of a much bigger, precious, invaluable picture.
So when we stop to think about the "little things" today, we realize that they aren't that little after all.
Just in the last few days, my four year old surprised me by doing a load of laundry all on his own. He asked if he could, I told him yes, and he proceeded to load the washer, place the detergent and fabric softener in, and start the washing cycle all on his own. He was incredibly proud and so was I.
Just a couple of days later, my 6 year old scrambled two eggs for himself and his brother. My husband supervised, of course. But, from start to finish, Goob cracked the eggs, scrambled them, and cooked them all on his own. I bet they were the best tasting eggs he's ever had because he knew that he'd made them with his own hands.
Those are the things that take me completely by surprise and stop me in my tracks. I think about how impossible it is to believe that my two little ones are so independent, so helpful, so grown up. And I realize that, although there are difficult times, when I look back on these days, those are the moments I will remember and bask in. The scrambled eggs and the loads of laundry are this season's baby laughs and unstable toddles. They are the precious moments of seeing them grow and change and shape into the people they are and who they will become.
And it's a gift to be able to realize, in this moment, how groundbreaking those experiences are. It's a gift that only the experiences so far could prepare me for.
I am always living in this moment. And I will do my best to appreciate all that these moments hold, whether it be good, bad, or ugly--it's real. While I hold the past dear to my heart, I will remember that the present is the past in the making and that these days are short and these moments are fleeting. I will go forth, giving myself permission to miss the past, to revel in the present, and to look forward to the future all at once. Because that--something that seems so impossible to feel all together--is what makes this experience so uniquely human.