The baby stage was hard for me. My daughter joined our family as a toddler, so my second born was my first “baby experience.” I think I had it in my head that there would be lots of staring into each other’s eyes and cuddling all through the night. Instagram had me fooled with stylish moms and adorable, smiling babies surrounded by pastel colored linens and steaming hot tea on their side tables. What social media didn’t tell me was those blankets would most likely be covered in spit up immediately after the picture was taken and the tea on the side table was a few days old. Oh, and lukewarm.
There were moments of the baby stage that I treasured, but my independent, adventurer who had a mind of his own from the start, did not gift me with the snuggles and star-struck eyes that I had hoped for. And his older sister split my time and energy. My boy kept me on my toes and “voiced” his opinions as often as possible. Because of this, I was exhausted and in survival mode most of his first year.
Yet, I hear and see these phrases often used, “He’s growing up too fast!” or “Make time slow down!” and a twinge of guilt tickles my throat each time. You see, I don’t really have those thoughts about the first years. This fact isn’t good or bad, it just is what it is. I’ve thought a lot about why I’m not sad about my kids growing up. And here’s what I’ve figured out so far:
1. Big kids are awesome!
Big kids’ conversations are enjoyable (and most of the time hilarious), their curiosity is motivating, and it’s fun to watch their personalities start to develop. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they PLAY INDEPENDENTLY! You can finally get a few minutes to yourself when you have big kids! Well, unless you need to use the bathroom; they always want to join that experience. Nevertheless, with each stage comes new parts to savor.
Speaking of savoring each moment, we are told to do that a lot. But let’s be realistic; there are many things I love about big kids because I don’t miss the long nights or my son’s inability to communicate. I savored the important parts that I wanted to remember, like the innocent look in his eyes, each exciting milestone, and the way he felt in my arms when we slept together each night, but these “big kid” moments are just as fun!
2. Looking at the past keeps us from the present.
If I spent my time always looking back and wishing things were “like they used to be,” I would miss out on the here and now. Like celebrating my daughter’s new ability to name all of her letters and my son’s questions about tractors and trains. Instead, I’d be too busy noticing that the length of their pants have shortened as their legs have grown longer and how the lisp my daughter once had is fading each day. I want to do my best to remain in the present moments as much as I can.
3. Your kids learn valuable lessons.
Of course, you are teaching your kids important lessons from the start, but as they grow, I feel so privileged to watch them develop wisdom, display kindness, and learn to regulate their emotions in ways that will serve them all the way into their adulthood.
So though we never became the perfect “Instagram-worthy” family, I am feeling less guilty about my lack of sadness as they grow and learning to enjoy each new stage. Although, they aren’t teenagers yet, so I may be wishing for these years back by the time we tackle those teenage attitudes!
Until then, stay busy loving the here and now and less time missing the days of the past.