“Enjoy it! It goes by so fast!” This is what everybody told me when I was holding the baby that would NOT stop crying. Or the baby that just had a blowout all the way up to his neck. Or to the baby that spit up constantly. I would usually smile curtly in response while rolling my eyes internally.
Enjoy it? You want me to enjoy cleaning up poop and never sleeping?
But now, my oldest son turns sixteen in a few weeks. He’s taking Driver’s Ed and has a job. He’s taller than me. Looking back, here are some reflections:
- I will never look back at memories of him and think “I should have spent more time doing the dishes. I should have made sure the house was cleaner.” I will always wish that I had squeezed out every second of time I could spend with him instead. The dishes will still be there. The clutter will still be there. But my son will never again be as young as he is now.
- There are seasons that I am glad we made it through. My oldest was my early riser: 4am early. We’d morning nap at 6am. I don’t miss that, not one bit. But I do miss the quietness of 5am, when it felt like we were the only two people awake on the entire planet.
- Similarly, I don’t miss separation anxiety. I don’t miss the guilt every time I had to leave my child’s frame of vision. But I do miss being the center of their world. Now, I’m on the periphery. Sure, they still need me (especially when they’re hungry) – but it’s not the same.
- There are perks to the teenage years. I never thought I’d say this – but this has been the most fun phase of parenting yet for me. The shows we watch, the games we play, the family activities – bike rides and bonfires, concerts (pre-COVID), volunteering together – this is WAY more fun than toddler tantrums. My 13 year old daughter and I went makeup shopping and clothes shopping together and it was so much fun. She also loves to bake, and she’s old enough to make a batch of cookies and clean up the kitchen afterwards all by herself.
- In every season there was something sweet that I will hold on to. The newborn baby cuddles. The sweetness of those first smiles. The first steps, first words. The way their little hands used to grip mine. The way that being close to mama made everything better. The imagination and curiosity as they learn more and more. Watching them fill with wonder – going to the zoo. Riding a rollercoaster. Acing a test. Learning an instrument.
- I am still in awe of how they grow. That young man that’s driving in circles in the church parking lot – he was that same baby that would stare into my eyes and coo at 5am. He’s taller than me, but he came from my body. I used to read stories to him and now we discuss theology and politics together. I helped him learn how to count and now he can solve a Rubik’s cube in under twenty seconds.
It did go by too quickly. There are some seasons that I am glad went quickly – but I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.
Whatever season that you’re in right now – it is but a season. It will not last forever. So if you’re in a difficult season, may that give you peace. If you’re in a wonderful season, may it give you gratitude.