Yesterday at work, two OR techs were talking about their children; one with a three year old, one with a two month old.
"I just can't wait until she's older. She's coming and getting in bed with me almost every night."
"I know. I can't wait until my baby gets older and sleeps through the night."
Now I don't have a lot of parenting advice. Most days, I feel like I'm flailing my way through this whole process of raising children. So many times, I struggle and often fail, spending many of my last conscious thoughts at the end of each day thinking about how I can do better tomorrow. So I don't feel qualified to give anyone any advice about parenting.
Except this one thing. This one thing I have learned about parenting the hard way.
Take it slow.
Don't wish away these moments. Yes, I know that you are tired and it would be lovely to get more than two hours of sleep a night. We are all tired. Yes, I know that it's stressful to have nearly every grocery store trip end in a monumental melt down that only a two-year-old can do. We've all been there.
Go on and be excited about the future. Celebrate each new milestone, first steps, first words, first days of school.
But don't miss out of the beauty of your child, here and now, just as they are, for some longing for the next stage.
It look me clear until my third child to realize this lesson. Poor Bug really got the brunt of it. I was so stressed out by everything, by the not sleeping, the fights over baths and car seats. I wanted him to be amazing, the obvious extension of that being that I was amazing. I pushed him to read, to excel, so I could have that pride that my kid walked earlier, learned to read faster, was smarter, somehow thinking that that was the sign of a successful parent and a happy child.
But really, all it takes to be happy is to hold your children and marvel at the unique creature they are today.
Because someday, your child is going to be staying out past curfew, wearing heavy eye make up and screaming at you that you just don't understand.
And yes, you will still love them, still be amazed that the creative, independent person they have become. But part of you will ache for that little one that wanted to crawl into bed and sleep next to you at 2 am. The small hand that wanted to hold yours in public. The little newborn that you were the whole world for.
Here's the real irony in this whole thing. Now that I have learned my lesson, now that I am doing every thing I can to savor each moment, it feels like they are flying by even faster. The days slip by fast enough on their own without my encouraging them along.
Childhood is such a magical, fleeting journey. Take it slow.