My days are full of “hurry ups” and my years are full of “slow downs.” Hurry up and put your shoes on. Hurry up and finish your dinner. Hurry up and get dressed, finish your homework, brush your teeth. Then the day is over and I finish cleaning the kitchen, picking up the living room and folding laundry. I sit down on the couch and think of all the times I wish I had slowed down during the day. I could have helped my son get dressed, a task he hasn’t fully mastered. One day he won’t need or want my help. I could have read one more book before bedtime. One day they won’t want me to read to them. I could have sung both “night night” songs as they requested rather than just one. They don’t realize yet that my voice would scare a cat into a tree. They think I’m the greatest person in the world. Even as I write that, it’s hard to believe. There is no one better in all the world, than me. WOW. I spent too many moments of the day wishing they would grow up.
Every few months, I empty the pictures from my camera onto my computer. I see the pictures of my then two and three-year-old pulling in the cast net for the first time. My three-year-old’s tongue is slightly sticking out of the corner of his mouth, something he does when concentrating hard. My two-year-old still has those chubby baby cheeks. Where did those cheeks go? I watch a video of my son repeating the names of Santa’s reindeer and what once was “Pwanca” is now very clearly “Prancer.” I find a picture of my now 1.5 year old as a newborn snuggled up and sleeping on my chest; I look exhausted and blissful. I remember what that felt like. I realize how fleeting all of these years, months and moments are. They are like blinks of an eye. The good and the tough of all those moments are here and gone before you know it.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? You can’t have the amazing times without the tough times. That’s just how kids are. That three-year-old who is finally potty trained (woohoo!) also has a lot of questions that can’t reasonably be answered by even the most patient person in the world. That two-year-old who says “pwanca” also throws fits when his favorite superhero shirt is dirty or his socks aren’t just right. That newborn who is asleep on your chest will inevitably lead to zombie-like exhaustion.
I realize that it’s all about focus. Focusing on the good, not the bad. One day soon their blankies will be gone, they won’t ask for night night kisses, they’ll be slamming doors in my face and rushing off to hang out with their friends. And I will have spent too many minutes of their lives wishing they would grow up already. This year I resolve to slow down every day. I resolve to stop rushing every moment and every stage. I resolve to stop wishing they would grow up.
I am going to sit on the floor and play one more game of Sorry or Concentration. I am going to try to field the endless and hard to answer questions thrown my way daily with a little less exasperation in my voice. I am going to hold my daughter’s hand and make the slow walk (fast for her) to wherever she wants to go. Because I love these moments, I just get too caught up in the chores that need to be done and the places we need to go.
There will be plenty of times over the next twelve months that I will ask them to hurry up and that I will think to myself, “if only they could tie their own shoes . . . fill their own water bottles . . . buckle their own car seats.” However, I am going to try to focus more on where they are and what they need right now, whether it’s one more story at bedtime or an extra ten minutes to get ready to leave the house. This is their only childhood and I want them to remember a mama who cherished them every step of the way.