I remember when my children were small, a phrase I heard a lot was, “Cherish these moments. They don’t last long,” or something similar. Now, I have heard lots of moms say they resent hearing this. “I’m tired,” they say. “I just can’t hold on to those moments. I have to be a mom.”
I understand frustration with the phrase, but I always listened. Because the moms saying it had been in my place before. They had been in the midst of dirty diapers, lack of sleep, cleaning tossed food from a 10-foot radius around the high chair, appointments, inconsolable crying, potty training, one-year old single-person wrecking crews, wearing shirts smelling of spit-up, agonizing bedtimes, unexplained fevers, worrisome coughs, mysterious rashes and the host of exhausting mothering things.
They’d been there. But they STILL said it. What I heard them saying was, “You matter. Mothering matters. This time in your life is important. You are doing good work. These children might change the world someday. Don’t forget all the positive things. The snuggles. The moment you hear them call out ‘Mama’ the first time. Baby giggles. Tiny hands reaching for you. The trust and love that lets them fall asleep in your arms because that’s the best place to be. There will come a moment when they don’t want you to kiss them. There will be a last time they sit in your lap, a last time you pick them up, the last time you sing a lullaby as they drift to sleep. Remember those things and hold them close. They are what is important.”
My children are older now. I have two middle-school age boys. They think girls have cooties, kisses are disgusting, romance movies are SO embarrassing, and even saying “I love you” is questionable. I have equal parts amusement and pangs of “please don’t grow up, I can’t handle it.” Our house is filled with LEGO, Minecraft, approximately 5,000 pieces of Star Wars-themed origami, and falling apart Calvin and Hobbes books. It’s sometimes annoying to clear away paper Yodas from the counter and Lego mini-figures hiding behind cereal bowls, but I smile, too. This stage won’t last long. And I will miss it when it’s gone.