I was texting with a dear friend the other day who used to babysit my toddlers and now has a toddler of her own. She was recounting her toddler nap adventure from that afternoon, and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t on the tips of my fingers to type, “Just wait! Before you know it, you’ll be moving her into college!”
I stopped myself. But, gah. I was nearly one of those people. Tempted to remind some poor young mother that she should enjoy these days — some of which are great, but some of which are really, really hard — because it’s all so fleeting.
I get why people say things like that. They want to offer comfort and advice, and they remember those days fondly (potentially more fondly than they deserve, perhaps because they’ve forgotten potty training). But it’s not necessarily helpful. And frankly, not necessarily true.
A few weekends ago, I took a photo of my three teenagers during a trip to the University of Illinois. As I studied it later, it struck me that it all looked familiar. Sure enough, I dug out a photo from a Father’s Day project in 2008. They were 5 years, 3 years and 2 months old then. Today, they’re 18, 16 and 13.
Jenna has her arms around a sibling in both pictures, and her hands now look just like they did then. Nathan’s eyes and smile are dead-on the same, but the scabby knees are gone. The stained shorts are not. Caroline’s cheeks have disappeared into teenager angles, and she wouldn’t be caught dead with a bow in her hair.
It didn’t happen overnight. But it happened. They’ve grown up, but with so much living between those two photos, from 2008 and 2021. Thirteen years of games and calves and barn kittens, of heartbreaks and accomplishments and total joy. Of silliness and sadness, and of fights with each other and bailing each other out.
Mamas and dads, this is the stuff. The days pass by, yes. But live them well and full and soak in the good (which outweighs most all of the bad), and you’ll look back and think the same. These are the days. And they just keep getting better.
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