Stop Telling Me to Enjoy This Stage

Sometimes, after it rains, the smell of the air transports me to a sweet, sticky summer night in the Midwest. I can almost taste the smoldering of a charcoal grill, and feel freshly cut grass under my bare feet. I close my eyes and still see fireflies dancing, and a deck full of faces that I miss. Every. Single. Day. It makes me happy to think about where I come from, but also to think about where I’m going. 

As a self-proclaimed nostalgic, nearly every season of my life holds some sort of sentimental value. I’ve got some really great rose colored glasses, too. Smells, flavors, sounds, songs… They all have the ability to take me back to a time when life was a little simpler, more fun & just a bit sweeter.

So, I know it’s inevitable that as my kids grow up, I’m going to cry a million gallons of tears over just how perfect life was when they were little. Perfect cherub faces and tiny fingers wrapped around mine; our problems no bigger than spilt Cheerios in the backseat.  I will completely overlook the things that make my friends recall these years as “the dark ages”, and my husband to lovingly refer to this season as “the suck” (sorry for outing you, Honey).

The crying, constant boogers, spit-up, potty accidents (we’re talking poop on the carpet), foot stomping fist pounding temper tantrums, middle of the night vomit clean-up, sleep schedules to keep, total lack of privacy, no showers, no dates and NO sleep will be a distant memory, and I’ll recall only the sweetness (of which there really is plenty).

Wherever we go, that sweetness garners a wealth of attention from older folks, and they always leave me with the same words: “Enjoy them”.

Those words hit me square in the gut – every time.

I’m trying. I’m trying so hard to enjoy them that I’m nearly driving myself mad. Heaven forbid I give up just one minute with them – a minute that in ten, fifteen, twenty years…. I would kill to have back.

I’d trade almost anything for a full night of sleep right now, but then I remember that my baby won’t always need me so completely. So I shuffle down the hall to cherish her at 4:00 am, when the rest of the world is sleeping. 

My back aches from holding, bending, rocking, lifting – but someday they’ll be too big for any of it – so I try never to turn down the opportunity. 

And convincing a toddler to go to sleep each night is like negotiating an international peace treaty, but then I realize she won’t always need to be tucked into bed, and I re-read the same fairy book for a third time in a row.

I spend my days so deep in the trenches that I often forget to come up for air. And although a clean house and peaceful evening alone sound luxurious, I’m painfully aware that those things are coming.

So please don’t remind me.

I know that people mean well – their wisdom is all to say “be present” – but raising toddlers is hard.  I’d rather be told about the great times still ahead of us, like birthday parties, family vacations, graduations & weddings – the moments in a mom’s life where her work pays some dividends; moments that I hope to enjoy through the clear lenses of well rested eyes.

“Enjoy them”, feels like some sort of sad ending – like the best days of my life are upon me and quickly fading.  My heart knows that God has so much more in store for us than I can imagine, but I still can’t help but hold on just a little too tight to what will inevitably slip away. 

So, next time you see me with a baby on my hip and a toddler pulling everything off the store shelves, and if you feel inclined to make a comment, just smile sympathetically and tell me that life only gets better, sweeter, and more beautiful with time.

xxx,

MamaFulch

Philippians 3:13-14:  13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Dear Daughter…

Sweetheart,

From the moment I first set eyes on you, I’ve wanted to protect you.  Protect your tiny body from physical harm. Keep that precious heart from ever breaking. And prevent your vivacious soul from ever being stifled by the words of others. Having you has been like watching my own heart walk around outside of my body – I care so deeply, yet I have so little control. 

This world is beautiful. This world is messy. It’s cruel and unfair but that’s okay, because it’s also spectacular.

With each passing day my heart breaks a little bit, as I watch the baby slip away. Still, with every new milestone you reach, I beam with pride at the little girl you’re becoming. Bold, daring, brilliant, compassionate and full of empathy – you are more than I ever dreamed a little person could be.

Yes, I want to protect those qualities with every inch of my being, but I know that I can’t – that I shouldn’t. Every broken bone and heartache will heal, and you’ll be stronger for them. And so, I will be a spectator to your life, trying hard not to intervene, although I’ll want to.

As you travel your path, know that there will always be someone richer than you, but that true treasures are of the heart.

Know that there may always be someone more beautiful than you, but beauty is subjective.  Your daddy and I look at you and see the most lovely little girl in the whole world.

Know that there will always be someone out there who’s smarter than you, but so long as you follow your conscience, you will be unstoppable.

No matter where life takes you, you will be loved by your family and by God; to us, you are perfect – created in His image to be nothing short of amazing. But most importantly, I hope that you love yourself – unconditionally – despite any bumps along your road. You deserve nothing less.

When life gets hard, turn to the Lord. When it’s easy, stay humble & open your heart to others.

You, my darling, are going to do amazing things in this world.

You are my reason for being. My pride. My joy. My LOVE.

xxx,

Mama

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22–23