Moms, do the following questions sound familiar?
What’s if today is the last day you push your sweet boy in the swing?
What if today is the last day you pick up your baby girl?
What if today is the last day your sweet one says “Mommy,” and tomorrow you will be “Mom” officially?
I see these articles and posts almost every day.
Maybe it’s just me, but all those posts do is lead to more questions. And not the sweet, reminiscing ones.
Am I enjoying my children enough?
Do I sweat the small stuff too much?
Was I a good Mom today?
(Also, does anyone notice that none of these, at least that I’ve seen, are targeted towards Dads? But I digress…).
Fellow Moms, as a young(ish) mother myself, consider this permission slip signed. Permission for what, you ask?
To let go of the guilt.
Now, before you call me as cold as Elsa, don’t misunderstand. I have my bittersweet moments just like everyone else (It happens regularly, but the eve of their birthdays always get me, especially at bedtime as I tuck them the last time as that age. Pass the Kleenex and the candy bowl).
But I think we need to be careful to not let those moments overwhelm our days and those days overwhelm our weeks.
I can remember when Luke was in the newborn/infant phase. I was completely smitten with him of course, but with the often sleepless nights and many fussy days, if someone texted me,“Don’t blink!” I wanted to throw my phone against the wall. Those people were all well-intentioned, but I remember thinking, “Please let me blink.” Not wish the weeks away, but blinking = rest = enjoying that stage.
It was actually discouraging as a new Mom to hear, “You’re going to miss these days” or “Cherish those sleepless nights” or “Don’t rush time, this morning may have been the last time he slept in the bassinet beside your bed.” Of course, I knew they had the sweetest intentions. But, as a new Mom those first few months and now four years later, I’ll tell you a little secret.
The most encouraging phrase I could hear was, “It gets better. Every age has been my favorite.”
That didn’t mean the infant phase was a bad one necessarily. They were simply encouraging me. Even if I thought baby life would be superior to all the next seasons of life, and some of those cuddly, giggly baby days did feel that way, it was like they were putting an arm around my shoulder and telling me, “You think it’s good now? Just wait.”
(They were right).
That stubborn, little infant of mine is now a 4 and a half (if he was reading this, he’d tell me to add that half part) handsome, little boy. And while there are still frustrating moments and times when I feel like he’s sitting on my last nerve because he enjoys the view, I have to tell you…
It’s my favorite age so far.
He has a reading ability that can truly only be described as God-given. He is kind and wants everyone to be included (well, unless he and his friends form a “Boys Club,” that was only created because the girls had done the same, he insists). He has developed a sharp sense-of-humor and the jokes he makes up are actually starting to make sense. He loves music the most, and tells me now he wants to be a songwriter (complete with asking for a “guitar strap” from Santa and guitar lessons next year). Infant, one, two, and three were filled with priceless moments, but four has been the best.
And that boy is now the usually-proud big brother to a sassy and sweet baby sister. And while I want to squeeze those cheeks in my Facebook memories, even with the lay-on-the-floor-fits, you have to know…
It’s my favorite age so far.
She’s showing a feistiness that I hope doesn’t bite me too much as she gets older, but I have to admit, I hope she keeps it. She loves books, but will only let you read to her if it’s her idea (she prefers flipping through them at lightning speed). Allie’s her name, stacking toys is her game. She still mostly babbles in her own language, but she understands everything we say perfectly well. And while she can and does tell us “No” easily and often, it’s hard to tell our Cindy Lou-Who look-a-like the same with those pigtails and curls. Infant and one were filled of precious memories, but two has been my favorite.
And I’m not oblivious to the fact that I’ve yet to be a parent of a moody middle schooler and eye-rolling sophomore, but I love hearing from parents who tell me, “Don’t let people scare you. I love the teen years. The conversations are harder but deeper. Oh, and they sleep in. It’s my favorite age so far.”
Do I think (know) those middle school parents have hard days? Of course. But I think the “favorite age” mindset means you find the positive of the age, the day, and the season.
Think of a sponge. If you don’t wring it out every so often, the weight of the water becomes too much to bear and it kind of defeats the purpose of what it’s trying to clean, right?
I think the same applies to us, Mamas. We are going to miss the moment if we’re too worried we’re not enjoying the moment enough. Our babies’ childhoods are to be treasured in joy, not trapped in guilt.
Now if you love the “Don’t Blink/What if” posts, please don’t let me rain on your parade. Maybe they encourage you. Just like these babies we raise, every Mama is different. And, of course, It’s natural for us all to have teary-eyed thoughts, knowing you’re going to look back on these days when you were that little boy and baby girl’s whole world.
Just don’t dwell on it so much that you miss out on theirs.
So, in case you need it, here’s your permission to blink or not read those doubt-planting articles.
(I’ll even sign for you to go take a nap).
Remember, 4 and 2 are my favorite ages so far!
It gets better.
You were a good Mom today.