Enjoy It While It Lasts...???
Penn Yan, New York
Lifestyle Photographer and Blogger
My daughter got a new big girl bed yesterday. In fact, she's been reaching a lot of milestones rather quickly lately. Is it just me, or do they speed up their mastery as they mature? Two days ago, she finally figured out how to unbuckle the bottom buckle on her five point harness, which means that she can now unbuckle and buckle herself [if you are curious about why I still have her in the five point, you can visit this page where they have a wealth of information about safe car seat practices]. She also figured out how to open the car door from the outside. These may not seem significant to you, but as a mom who carts my daughter around with me pretty close to twenty-four seven, it's kind of a relief to not have to help her with these tasks anymore.
Of course, when she accomplished these things, we had huge celebrations and I congratulated her. As for me, I've been reflecting on my feelings about all of this happening. These days, I feel like there are lots of quotes kicking around on social media and the internet in general about enjoying the moments because they are so fleeting. "They are only babies for a minute--enjoy every second" was one such quote I found on my search. Or, "The hardest part about being a mother is watching your children grow everyday, knowing there is nothing you can do about it but enjoy every single second of it." I'm a lover of words and I think a lot about these quotes when I'm spending my days with my daughter. In fact, I have people all the time reminding me to enjoy this time while it lasts. I have to say something that may shock you: I'm not sure I agree with them.
When people constantly throw out "enjoy it while it lasts" quotes at me, I have to be honest, I get kind of annoyed. Before you go telling me that I'm crazy, let me break it down for you. To me, it feels like people are suggesting that childhood is the only thing to enjoy about growing, nurturing, and raising a human. Here's the thing. I don't want to grip and claw and beg my daughter to never grow up. Do I enjoy having her home with me and spending time with her? Absolutely. Will I miss these days? Absolutely. But, I want to enjoy it all. I enjoyed my [very] squishy, little newborn babe. I enjoyed watching her master walking and talking and eating. I loved watching her walk around with her boots on the wrong feet. Now I am enjoying watching her learn her letters and numbers and addition [another development she came up with on her own over the past couple of weeks]. I love the way that she still uses the f sound for th and the way that her letter l sounds like a w. I love how she tells me secrets that include a whispered "I love you" and a hug and kiss. I can't wait to watch her continue to learn to read, maybe play a sport, or play the drums [lord, help me]. I look forward to seeing the person she is going to become, to seeing who she chooses to be.
I was talking to one of my husband's aunts one day; she always helps me put things in perspective. She was talking about missing her babies, but in the same breath pointed out how cool it was that now she was able to enjoy her time with them differently--going on wine tours together, or more grown-up family vacations, or just having a nice adult dinner together. So, here's my point. I'm going to take all of it in. I'm not going to cling to her childhood. I'm not going to wish that she would never grow up. I'm going to enjoy and celebrate each and every single moment with her and continue to wish and hope that she always wants me to be a part of it. I'm going to be proud--after all, I helped make most of it happen. I taught her to walk and talk and recite the alphabet and identify her numbers and use her manners and buckle her seatbelt. I'm going to enjoy watching her grow up to be [I hope] a kind, successful, independent woman who doesn't have to rely on anyone for anything. So, although there are lots of things that I miss or I may get a little sad about when she grows out of things or moves on because they were so dang fun and cute, as for me I'm going to look back on the past fondly, enjoy the moment that we're in, and look to the future with anticipation and pride to see who she is going to become.
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