A slow transformation has been happening in my home. I’m not too happy about it.
We were at the park the other day. Admittedly, we’ve been going a lot less since it gets dark at like, 3 p.m. I was pushing the littles on the swings, catching them as they slid down the slide, holding their tiny hands on the balance beam. My husband and my two older kids were playing football in the field. They never even came to play on the playground.
Slowly, Fleet (8) and Luke (7) have been outgrowing the park. Slides and swings don’t hold the appeal that they used to hold. They want to play football or basketball and run around with their friends playing freeze tag or huddling in a corner trading Pokémon cards. There are fewer and fewer opportunities to interact with them.
They no longer need me to wash their bodies or help them get dressed. They don’t need me for snacks or water. They don’t even need me to read to them anymore, though I still do.
Most days, I am so busy with my younger children, Elle (3) and Charlie Mac (1), that I truly don’t have time for them. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say but three-year-olds and one-year-olds are very demanding. They rarely leave my side.
There are many days when all I want is a break. To go to the bathroom by myself. To not have to serve so much food. To sit down without someone crawling all over me. These someone’s used to be Fleet and Luke. I can feel their little personalities around me, as I write this. Fleet’s little blond head and sweet voice, blankie in hand, following my every step. Luke’s beautiful little skin, the sound of his breath, his chubby hands on my face.
Now, their blankies have been handed down to their brother. Their voices are strong and they pronounce all words correctly. I get close enough for a kiss at bedtime but the rest of the day, they’re too busy for me. While I’m busy too, that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss them. Sometimes I wish I could sit down and play a board game in the middle of the day or go to the movies or for a bike ride with them.
I guess it really does go by as fast as everyone says. In the moment, it doesn’t feel fast. I longed for the breaks from them that I am getting now. I realize that I never really wanted them to grow up, I just wanted a minute to myself occasionally. This seems like a simple thing to get but all moms in the trenches know that it’s not as easy as it sounds.
As I’ve been thinking about this new stage in our home, I am remembering all of the times that I was given the unwarranted advice: “Enjoy it, it all goes by so fast.” The trouble is that we moms already know this. We know it flies, we know we should be enjoying every minute. But ya’ll, that is simply not possible.
When you’re in the trenches, wrangling toddlers and breastfeeding and cleaning messes and changing diapers—and you’re doing it all on very little sleep—this advice actually does damage to an already struggling mama. I remember wanting to scream, “NOT FAST ENOUGH!!!” It is too hard to enjoy every minute. This well-intentioned advice leaves us feeling guilty and worried.
I am of the strong mind that the only thing any mama needs to hear (unless you are her BFF) is “You’re doing a great job.”