I can’t count how many times since I had my son that I’ve been warned how quickly he will grow up and instructed to enjoy every single minute of his young life.
It’s been written in cards by distant relatives, posted on my Facebook wall by older colleagues and spoken to me in elevators by perfect strangers while they coo over my sleeping baby.
I understand these well-intentioned aphorisms are just part of “what you say” to a new parent. And, like all aphorisms, I’m certain there is truth in these warnings.
But, dear person who misses your own child while staring sweetly at mine, although I know you mean so well when you say it, let me tell you just how much I hate hearing it.
“They grow up so fast.”
The minute you say this, my mind’s eye instantly ages my tiny son 18 years. I flash through his terrible twos, first day of Kindergarten, prom and the day he moves out of my house all in the span of five seconds.
I only packed up his newborn clothes a few days ago. Give me a minute.
“Savor every moment.”
Even the moment when I’m exhausted from being up all night because he’s going through a growth spurt and therefore eating every half hour and his Daddy won’t be home for another four hours and he just shit all over himself and is now peeing on me while screaming like I’m torturing him when I’m just trying to help him not have to sit in his own feces?!
Do I have to savor that moment?
Having a baby is joyous and amazing and life changing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But, sometimes it’s also really, really hard.
When I hear “savor every moment,” I feel a tremendous burden of guilt in those moments when I am so NOT feeling the joy.
“They’re only this young once.”
Yes, this is a basic fact of biology of which I am aware. And, since my husband and I are undecided on if we want a second child, I am also quite aware this may be the only time I have all this squishy cuddly new-baby goodness.
I realize you are encouraging me to not take it for granted. Which is important. But what I hear is that before I know it my son will be too big for me to hold on my lap and probably won’t want to sit in it anymore anyway and who knows if I will have another baby and for the love of God can I just enjoy this moment?!
When you’re in the middle of one of the most amazing experiences of your life, it’s kind of a buzz kill to be reminded that it’s going to end.
But see, that’s the thing. It’s not about to end. This is just the beginning.
My mother tells me every age is fun. And that’s what I remind myself when I feel the panic of time start to rise up inside me.
I love having a cute, cuddly, cooing little baby. But I also can’t wait to see the elation on his face when he walks for the first time. To hear him call out “Mama,” when he needs me. To finally know what amazing things are inside his head. To find out what makes him curious and what he wants to be when he grows up. To see him go to college and get married and start a family of his own.
But not yet. For today, he’s still my sweet little boy. And I’m his exhausted and overwhelmed, joyous new mother.
And we’ve only just begun.