Our children are at SUCH sweet ages — 1 and 5 — and so I often get that quintessential reminder from others: “These are the days!” Of course, I understand what they mean when they say this — and I agree that we are in a really special chapter of our lives. It’s one that’s full of snuggles and watching our children learn and being needed by them and so much family time (which our kids WANT right now). They’re precious years, no doubt, and I am absolutely working hard to be as present for them as possible. I’m aware that these years are an immense gift (both the beautiful and the challenging parts, which often occur in the same breath).
I am also really looking forward to continuing to watch our kids grow, and to being involved in other seasons of their lives. I often picture myself chatting with 30-year-old Maggie over a glass of wine, or of driving teenage Vance and his friends somewhere, happily listening in on their conversation. The thing is, I think THOSE will be “the days,” too. The kids will be more independent, but I’ll still get to watch them grow and learn — and I’ll continue to learn FROM them and grow, too, as a result. (I’ll also be more well rested. 😉)
I’ll have more space in my life to dig into those parts of me that are separate from motherhood, too. Those important aspects of me that, to some degree, have to take a bit of a backseat during this particular phase when the kiddos are so young. I’m happy to let other things take priority right now, and I also know it will feel fulfilling in a different way when the balance shifts some. (I’m also excited for my children to see me rediscover some of those parts of me. They’ll get to know me better as a result AND know the same will be possible for them if they become parents.)
I so value talking with friends whose kids are a bit older than mine — like my friends Nora and Emily, who we had dinner with earlier this week — and hearing them share about how much they enjoy their current relationship with their children. Their conversations can be much more in depth and the whole vibe is just different. Yes, they tell me — they remember those snuggly young years I’m in with nostalgia, but there’s SO MUCH GOOD about their children getting older, too.
And then I also think back to my adult years before kids. “Those were the days” in their own way, too. Kevin and I had SO many adventures — big and small — and were very aware (since we hoped to have kids) that we wanted to enjoy our early married years and knowingly be more selfish with our time than we’d be able to be down the road. We intentionally waited several years before starting the process of having children, savoring that “just us” time in the process. I felt incredibly happy and fulfilled during much of that phase of my life.
Experiencing pregnancy — especially when I was pregnant with Maggie and Kevin and I were anticipating being parents for the first time — was magical. I’ll be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to carry children, and to know the countless feelings that come along with pregnancy and also delivery and postpartum. I know it’s no small thing, and I’m so, so glad it’s been part of my life story. Being a parent is something incredibly special, and I treasure it so much. Those early days, the ones during pregnancy and new motherhood? Those were “the days” in so many ways.
I also fast forward mentally to what our lives will look like when our kids are out of the house. I know we’ll miss having them here, but I also know Kevin and I will really enjoy THAT chapter, too. We’ll once again have more flexibility and independence with how we use our time and our money, and I have no doubt we’ll love spending “just us” time together again. In many ways, I’m confident “those will be the days” as well.
So what I’m getting at is this: Why can’t we view ALL the days — this whole “life” thing — as precious and meaningful and sweet? I fully understand why I’m frequently reminded to treasure these moments while my kids are young. And yet can’t I be incredibly aware that time right now is really special while also widening the lens a bit, allowing that specialness to creep into, well, ALL of it? I think some of the tight grasp parents like me with young kids have on the attempt to be so present and so grateful and so HERE for every second (not to mention the guilt we can have in those moments we DON’T feel especially thankful) might feel less frantic if we reminded ourselves that there’s so much good yet to come.
It makes me think a bit about the way I feel when I pass a car on the road with a “Baby On Board” sticker hanging in the window. It’s implying, of course, that I should drive more carefully around that car since there’s a baby inside. But it always makes me think, “Shouldn’t we just all drive with caution IN GENERAL since, you know, ALL vehicles have ‘Humans On Board’?” I feel the same way when people are extra nice to me in the grocery store or airport or another public place when I have my kids with me. I appreciate it, without a doubt, but it leaves me wanting to make others feel that seen and considered just for being PEOPLE out in the world — whether or not they have a child in tow. (A little veering off topic, but still — those come to mind as worth including here.)
My friend Amanda and I often talk about how it’s SUCH a bummer that time is linear — that we have to live it all in this forever forward-moving continuum instead of being able to revisit the past or future along the way. We can time travel, sure — but only in our minds. And since that’s our reality — this linear time thing — it’s my intention to make as many of the days as possible THE DAYS. Days that allow us time to grow, to learn, to be curious about the people and things around us, to develop relationships with ourselves and with others, to do things to make our world a better place, to help those around us in ways both big and small, and to be present along the way — aware of what a gift ALL of this is.
And so, consider this: These are the days — whatever “day” or chapter or phase it happens to be for you — because it means we’re here, and alive, and able to experience what it means to be human.