There are common sayings that you hear (and probably say) over and over again about kids throughout your parenting journey. Just a few that stand out are: “Babies don’t keep,” “It goes so fast,” “You won’t remember this one day,” “You can’t truly appreciate your parents until you’ve become a parent,” and “This, too, shall pass.”
The one that stands out to me the most is some version of, “You won’t remember this in a few years” or “You’ll forget it soon enough.” These very powerful words are true: You do forget so much, and they are said with such good intentions and kindness. More than likely they are said when you are in the thick of those hardest parenting moments: sleepless nights, behavior issues, sibling battles, teenage angst, the never-ending list of parental hardships goes on and on. But the more I hear (and share) these powerful words the less I want to accept them.
I don’t want to forget anything. It already goes so fast; it should be illegal how fast our babies turn to toddlers. Then our squishy toddlers turn to opinionated little kids full of personality. But it’s not enough to keep them little; soon they start kindergarten, then the scary awkward years of middle school slap you in the face. Don’t even get me started on how quickly they become teenagers. Somehow they talk us into letting them drive (it’s probably the free errands we get out of them). Those sleepless nights now are spent on homework and studying because school isn’t just school anymore, the activities and extracurriculars take a great deal of time, too.
Just as soon as you’ve convinced them to stay home on a Friday night and watch a movie with you like the good ole days (you’ll even let them pick, because we are suckers and let’s be real, we always let them pick), they are applying to college. Those letters roll in and all of a sudden your baby is an adult. We tried so hard to keep this from happening as fast as it did, but time is tricky like that.
So you enjoy and savor these last few months of them being under your roof because you know once they live on their own, it’s always going to be a little different when they come home. They grow so much in independence during college it makes your heart swell. Maybe they meet their person, hopefully they find the career that will bring them joy and allow them to provide for their family one day.
And just like that your baby is a full blown adult. And, whatever they choose for their path, you are proud, so dang proud.
Because even though it went painfully fast, you took the time to remember. You counted those tiny toes and smelled that sweet newborn smell on those long, long nights. You held those chubby toddler hands as they waddled towards independence. You savored those hugs from that always-moving little kid.
You spent quality time each day with your elementary-aged kiddo. You talked and listened to your middle schooler as they went through their most awkward and challenging years. Don’t forget, you were always there to wipe away those inevitable tears. Then came high school when you made sure to support your kids and their interests, all the while giving them enough space to be themselves. You savored these last few years with them under your roof even when they had very little time for you.
And of course you moved them into their dorm with your unique mother’s touch, waiting until you got back to the car to really have a good cry. And of course you remind them over and over that you are always only a phone call away. You are there to help them navigate the sometimes scary road that is adulthood. And you love them. You love them so dang much and you don’t care how sappy they think you are right now.
So hold your head high, my friends, and be proud of the incredible human(s) that you love more than words. You poured your everything into them and they are forever shaped by you. And no matter what stage you are in right now, promise me that you will stop and look around, lock some memories in, and remember just how fast it all goes. Each day you are given time, time to meet your kids where they are.