I’ve always been a sentimental and nostalgic person. I get weepy at television commercials and have yet to make it all the way through “What a Wonderful World” without rubbing my eyes. I have more than 13,500 pictures on my phone (truthfully) because I simply cannot let a precious moment pass without capturing it forever on film. I didn’t use to care quite so much about preserving the present but parenthood has a way of making you realize all over again just how fast time moves on.

I have so many days when I verbally remind myself, “Soak this up. Live into this moment. Put the blasted phone down. Sit with your babies on the hardwood floor in the middle of the afternoon and eat a popsicle as the sun shines in from the window above the sink.”

Yet, when the time comes to enjoy and appreciate that moment, I’m thinking about how I need to change the load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. I need to prep supper. I need to vacuum the 1.75 million cheese cracker crumbs currently scattered on the living room rug because a set of tiny hands turned the full bag upside down and had a stomping party.

I’m so quick to notice the obligations before me, that I often miss the blessings. While I’m concerned with the dishes, the dog, the errands or the to-do list, my babies are literally growing up before my eyes.

Just today, my daughter pulled me onto the couch for an impromptu concert. She grabbed the broom as her microphone and informed me that she had written a special new song for me. With her precious four-year-old vernacular, she started singing about how she loves flowers, she loves her mom, she loves cookies but she does not, definitely does not, love sharp things. I should have hung on every word. I should have been so enraptured by the sweet way she pronounces her “r”s or her nervous little laugh that absolutely nothing else in the world called to me.

Instead, I answered a text halfway through and missed a good chunk of Act 2. I’ll never again get that exact moment back and the lost opportunity has been weighing on me since dinnertime. However, I’d be doing myself and my children a significant disservice to shoulder that blame and burden for too long.

The reality is that moms are busy. Moms are referees, chefs, counselors, personal assistants and seamstresses—and that’s all before breakfast. It’s not entirely our fault that we can’t be 100% present, 100% of the time. Regardless of whether you work full-time, part-time, from-home or stay at home, you’re pulled in a million different directions and prioritizing which demands take precedence is a delicate and exhausting dance.

So if we’re scrolling Instagram for five minutes in the kitchen while the kids play together in the living room, let’s give ourselves a little grace. If we don’t catch every word of the 10-minute diatribe it takes them to tell us about one tiny incident at school, that’s fine. It’s fine because we’re trying and we’re living into these moments the best way that we each know how.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be more present, because I do. I want with every fiber of my being to be the absolute best mom because they deserve it and more. I’ve seen firsthand that time slows for no one and I’m aware every second of the day that soon enough, the symphony of tiny footprints and little sighs and roaring living room laughter will change its tune. Doors will slam shut to rooms wherein teenagers demand privacy.

There will be a period of time when friends will most likely be prioritized over mom and dad. Playdates turn into real dates. Remote-control toys and bikes with training wheels turn into cars. No one will need me to wash their hair or trim their toenails or clean behind their newly pierced ears. I’m so acutely aware of this fact that I’m trying desperately to cling to these days while they’re little and bottle them up. Yet, for all my efforts, I’m still focused on the shower that needs scrubbing or the yard that needs mowing.

I’m giving myself a little space to be scatterbrained, though. Just like I’m giving them the freedom to make messes, take up my entire side of the bed even though they’re a portion of my size, have a meltdown at three in the afternoon because their cupcake had the wrong color sprinkles, or come down the steps ten times before finally going to bed. Because being little is hard but so is being big. So let’s embrace the short-lived madness and the sacred mayhem. It’s only ours to juggle once and what a privilege.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Fancycrave1 via Pixabay