What seems like forever ago, I was a stay at home mom to 3 children. We had our first son when I was 21 and had our boy/girl twins when I was 26. I miss those days, even the crazy hectic ones filled with mayhem.
BUT at the time, people use to say to me ALL THE TIME in public (even at times when my kids were throwing tantrums) “Enjoy it while you can, they grow so fast”. I specifically remember holding back a stink face because I thought, [easy for you to say, your kids are probably grown!].
Usually it was said at the check-out line after doing a major grocery shopping exchange with the kids in tow after spending $300- and feeling utterly exhausted. There I stood, a hot sweaty mess knowing I had to now go and unpack all these groceries and make dinner too. Afterwards, cleaning up, giving bath’s, doing homework and reading to them before I could even think about calling it a night.
I remember enjoying motherhood…. but there were definitely times when I
lost my shit blew it on the kids, just snapped and started yelling. Those were the days when I was overwhelmed with “laundry mountain”, homework, kids fighting, hearing my name called 5,000 times “Mom! Mom, Mom! Mom! Mommmmmm!”, not to mention the rest of the housework, sick kids, bills to be paid, Dr.’s appointments, athletics practice, driving to and fro, kids to feed, etc. (and really, if you are a SAHM you know there is 100x’s that amount going on).
But now I’m going to say it and I’m not just saying this because I’m a Grandmother now and my life has eased up in many ways that MY kids are older but, “ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN, BECAUSE THEY DO GROW SO FAST”. It may not seem like it now, but they will. It’s inevitable. They leave the proverbial nest way before they are 18. At some point in Junior High you will see less and less of them as they develop their own friendships and interests outside of the home. You will go from being their EVERYTHING to being someone they can barely tolerate. I remember calling my mother to vent and she’d tell me, “Annebella. Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems“, and I seriously didn’t know what exactly she meant by that. All I knew was that I was drowning in a sea of “Mom! Mommy! Mommmmmmmm! Mama! Mom!”. Plus, I wasn’t going to have any problems when they were older, they were going to be adults and self-sufficient! Why didn’t she care about these problems I was having when they were little? How could she trivialize them?
Easy. Because she knew full well that the worry that you have for your babies/toddlers is nothing (absolutely nothing) compared to the worry you have for your 18-year-old+ child. I worry more now than I ever did when one of them had a fever and I couldn’t get it to go down. Little kids, little problems; tantrums, spilled milk, fighting over toys, throwing a fit in the store, being sassy, etc. Big kids, big problems; being thrust into the workplace, college, learning to navigate the adult world, having their own responsibilities, and being on their own. When my son tells me (in his competitive job) that he’s getting a hard time it upsets me. When my daughter tells me she had a car accident, or lost her driver’s license and credit card, or my son tells me he hates his job and I can see he’s miserable . . . those are just little examples and I know my description doesn’t do it any justice but you literally FEEL whatever they are going through. If your child is happy, you feel happy and a huge sense of relief. If they are down, you feel down for them and you worry. I think the worry is the worst part of it. You cannot fix their problems by any means because they have to figure it out but watching them struggle and having your hands tied is unbearable. It’s not just the little things either; it’s relationship issues, work related issues, and other issues that have a trickle down effect on the whole family. Big kids, big problems. Gotcha Mom, thanks for the warning ~ only wished I had known what it meant back in the day. Right now we are going through some very serious problems in our little family unit and I don’t care to put it out there but I am worried and knowing I have no control – I just have to offer it up to God at this point and pray for the best outcome.
So I say to you, you at home with your little ones. Be kind to yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself! Love your babies with all your might and know what is important right now. It’s not that you have a clean house or that you are keeping up with the Jones’s but that you and your children are having quality time together. This is a time to make memories, this is life; live it. Be messy, be obnoxious, let the little things go, pick your battles wisely, nurture them and be present before they ditch you for their Junior High School friends. In the wink of an eye, it’s gone forever. You’ll only have photos and memories to look back on, but you cannot get back to that precious window in time. It’s only there once and there are no do-overs.
So that older lady that says to you, “They grow so fast, enjoy it while you can” is not trying to be smug. She is just trying to let you in on a little secret.