There are about 940 Saturdays between the time your baby is born and the time they move out, assuming they are off to college after graduating high school. Sound like a lot? 260 of them are gone by kindergarten. Oh man. Now I don’t know about you, but reading things like this inevitably sends me into a breathless state of lumpy throated pre-cry oblivion. For the rest of the day I see my family in slow motion, kind of like a slideshow of beautiful moments, with this song playing in the background (that video isn’t even of my kid but I still want to cry, see what I mean?) and instead of being in those moments with them I feel like they’re already past and I’m just mournfully reflecting on them from some point in the future.
I have a real problem with what I call “senti-mentality”, or being obsessed with the fact that my kids are growing up faster than I can savor. I start to think about all of the sweet little thoughts and outfits that they have outgrown, and the words they couldn’t pronounce last week that they can say perfectly today, and my heart breaks a little. I read a children’s book once about how we as moms remember a lot of firsts, like the first bath, first time to the beach, first wiggly tooth, but we never know when the “lasts” are. I wish I could remember the last time I needed to tie Adeline’s shoe for her, or for that matter the last time my now grown-up baby brother asked me to come outside and watch how fast he could run. One of my 5 year old boys will still ask, when he’s extra tired, if I will hold him. I say yes every time I can, partially because I’m thinking, “Now this is definitely the last time he will ever ask. I have to remember it.” I’ll hold him, rub his back, and try to drink this “last time” in.
But this is where things get tricky. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not drinking it in at all. I’m too distracted. I’m too busy worrying that this won’t happen tomorrow to savor God’s beautiful blessing today. My dad has a talent for putting things into words, and he often says, “Remember, these are the good old days.” Wow. That fresh perspective always jolts me. Instead of being consumed by all the lost yesterdays, can’t I remember that I will one day look longingly back at today? And how do I want to remember it? How do I want my kids to remember it? I definitely don’t want their impression to be that mom was fine until the day got too fun or happy, then she couldn’t stop crying and taking pictures.
I think my current stance on it is this – moments/phases/days last exactly as long as they are supposed to. Any longer and we wouldn’t be as motivated to cherish them. And by the way, when I doubt that I’m not being an effective enough cherish-er, I think of another piece of wisdom from my daddy: “If you’re always worried you’re not doing a good job, you’re probably doing just fine.”