I’m not really sure when it happened.
For the longest time, just by my being, I was able to assert my authority over my kids. After all, they had to look up to talk to me. I was taller than them all.
And then suddenly, without much warning, I am the one looking up.
I can’t even see eye to eye with my oldest. I have to look UP.
I’m not familiar with this and I don’t know how this happened.
Yes I know, all the “theys” of society have been warning me for years – “They grow up so fast! Hold on to the years when they’re so small and fit in your arms!”
See, but here’s the thing. When you’re in it, it’s not so fast. The years might go by quickly – but the bedtimes are S-L-O-W…
The long afternoons when it just won’t get dark outside; those are not quick at all.
While my son was busy growing taller than me, I was still waking up too many times a night with my baby and those nights were L-O-N-G.
As baffled as I feel as to how I am suddenly the mother of two teenagers, one thing I do know for certain; time didn’t fly by. Because despite what they say, it doesn’t fly. There is sleep deprivation, cooking, cleaning, driving, countless hours of waiting at doctors and dentist and traffic and fighting and spills and messes and plane rides – all of which make the minutes just drag.
In reality, the advice of holding onto the days when the kids are small because before you know it, they’re bigger than you – in the here and now, it’s really not practical.
Because when you’re tired and the baby wakes up for the fifth time in one night – the clock moves very slow. And you’re too tired to be poetic.
It only works in hindsight. When the house is quiet and you suddenly have the luxury of having thoughts. Not just small spurts of thoughts that are constantly interrupted but never finished.
Real long thoughts, the type that make you see life differently. But that doesn’t mean the years flew by.
Sometimes I get stressed when I hear these warnings; as if I’m committing a sin by looking at the clock and waiting for everyone to be asleep or wishing toilet training is a quicker process than it is.
Which brings to mind another commonly heard forewarning … little kids, little problems, big kids big problems.
Ok, so now what? When my two year old is coloring with a black sharpie across my kitchen table, do I hug him and say I’m so happy for small problems? When my baby is waking up every hour on the hour and I’m so tired I can barely walk a straight line to his crib, should I do a dance and say hooray for small problems? Or when a child in the shopping cart is knocking down everything he can possibly reach while I’m trying to get the shopping done, do I smile at those around and say I’m so happy for small problems?
No, I don’t do that and I think it’s ok if you don’t either.
It’s ok to feel like you are about to lose your sanity when three kids are crying simultaneously and you desperately need the bathroom. That’s not called wishing the years away or making a big deal out of small problems.
It’s called being very present.
Feeling it all.
It’s not called complaining. It’s called stating facts.
Because we don’t live in the future. We live in the here and now. We can deal with the bigger-kid -bigger-problems when they come because we survived the little-kid-little-problems first. It goes in that order for a reason; the little problems stretch us and challenge us to be better equipped for the next stage.
Perspective is important; constantly remembering that each stage is a phase and each phase will pass is what keeps us going. But still, we must live in the present.
So here I am feeling like I’m living in a dual reality – my teens seemed to have gotten here so quickly, before I was ready and my little ones are still so little and I’m still so tired. Time can’t move slowly and quickly at the same time.
So maybe it’s not just the time or the teens or the years that are the issue … maybe it’s also that we are never ready. We are never fully ready for new stages and to let go of all the old ones. New stages are daunting. And time just pushes you along, regardless of the size of your kids or their challenges.
And like all of motherhood, all the learning is done on the job.