The Days Are Long, Even If You Cherish Them

Remember that wistful mom who approached you at Target and gazed at your chubby tot while urging you to CHERISH IT ALL, because her kids are big now and it just went by too impossibly fast?

She is me. 

Do you know that exhausted mom who just needs a little space, sleep, reinforcements, {maybe a glass of wine} and definitely several cups of coffee, because her energetic two year old has given up naps, has no sense of personal space, and tries to sleep ON her mother’s face every.single.night? 

She is also me. 

Most of the time, by the time someone has reached the firsthand knowledge of CHERISH IT ALL, they are done with the early part of their parenting journeys. Sometimes they wish they could go back with this new knowledge and do it all differently. They are sure they would be more patient, soak it all in, and not wish away the stages and days and hours.

Usually, when someone is living elbow-deep in infancy or toddlerhood, they are sure that the Target lady is insane because the minutes, hours, and days crrrrrawl by so slowly that time definitely is NOT zooming by. She has obviously forgotten what it is like to be living it daily, right?!

But here I am, parenting kids who are 15, 12, and 2, while both of these moms live in my head, and I can tell you … they are both right. 

I am a better mom with Target mom living in my head. She does slow me down, make me a little more patient, gives me the knowledge that every stage ends, and reminds me not to wish it away. But the truth is, it is still hard, it is still exhausting, and the days are still incredibly long, no matter how much perspective you have. Motherhood {especially during the infant/toddler years} is so consuming. You are giving so much of yourself to another person daily that it drains your reserves really quickly, regardless how much perspective you have on the matter. The idea of cherishing every moment in the face of tantrums, vomit, diaper blow-outs, sleepless nights, weaning, teething, someone in your space 24/7, potty-training, or listening to your kid ramble on about Minecraft {or Pokemon or YouTube toy reveal videos} for approximately 16 hours straight can definitely induce some eye-rolling or hysterical sleep-deprived laughter.

At the same time, no matter how frustrating an age or stage can be, I still find myself wistfully looking back at pictures from those time periods, missing those versions of my kids. You just want more of it once it is gone; one more moment with their sleepy newborn body curled up on your chest, one more slobbery open-mouthed baby kiss, one more nursing session, one more impressively mispronounced word in their sweet toddler voice, one more “Up! Up!”, one more race at the park, one more night listening to your kindergartner learning to read, one more time looking into the backseat and seeing them totally wiped out from a fun day, one more tickle fight, one more Christmas morning at the peak of childhood excitement … just one more visit with each version of your child there has ever been. There is a last for every one of those moments and for a million more little every day moments that you hardly notice at the time, and somehow as the days seem to last forever, those lasts rush by us with unimaginable speed and before we know it they are in the rearview mirror of life.

So listen to that crazy Target mom; soak up whatever you can, commit the little things you love to memory or to words or to photographs or to videos or to all of the above! But also know that it is really, really hard in the trenches and that is just as true and important. Being exhausted, needing time to yourself, or zoning out and staring at your phone for a bit while your kid quietly enjoys a {bribery} lollipop is not a sign that you are a bad mother or that you aren’t cherishing your kids. The days are impossibly long, but they hold some indescribably precious gifts, too. 

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