Savoring the Stage Your Kids Are In

As parents, we’re either looking down the road or in the rearview mirror. This is a gentle reminder to savor what’s right in front of you.

It was there in back of the cabinet, behind the water bottles and the coffee cups – the last remaining sippy cup.

With three kids we’ve made our fair share of sippy cup purchases. There were the ones that leaked, the ones with the straws that always got lost and the favorite one we washed non-stop in spite of all the rainbow of other cups in the cabinet.

I pulled it out, thinking of the pudgy toddler hands that have held it, about how many times I’ve had to pretend to drink from it and about how many more times I’ve had one hand on the steering wheel, the other extended behind me blindly feeling for that blasted plastic cup.

I got it out. Then I got rid of it.

I had expected to feel sad. I didn’t.

Years ago, when I was still picking soggy cheerios out of booster seats and wiping tiny jam handprints off my shins a friend told, “Big kids are fun too.”

I didn’t believe her. There was something better than rocking my son to sleep while inhaling the scent of his head? There could not be anything sweeter than my little man falling asleep, his fist gripping my finger like a life raft.

Yes, I could do with more sleep and fewer tears, but it did not, I was sure, get any better than this.

I was wrong.

These days my people can put bread in the toaster, they can (mainly) put on their shoes without assistance.

We read picture books and chapter books. We lay on blankets in the backyard and feel the warmth of the sun. We try to identify birds.

They ask me confounding questions: “Does God have goose bumps?” “What does ‘steadfast’ mean?”

They bicker. They fight. They make up. Sometimes all while I’m in the other room.

Their birthday party guest lists no longer consist of my friends with kids. They have their own opinions. They know what – and who – they like.

My boys take themselves to the bathroom now. The assistance I render is to say, “Flush. And WASH” when I hear the door open.

As parents, we’re either looking down the road or in the rearview mirror. When you’re doing the parenting walk of shame out of a restaurant with a kid thrashing around in your arms, all you want is to be done with that stage. Then your kids complain that their shoes are too tight and you realize they’ve grown. You’ve been sleeping with your eyes wide open.

Someday I won’t just be purging sippy cups. Gone will be the character toothbrushes and the cute lunchboxes.

A friend recently told me that when her son was little he wanted to wear the same Halloween costume several years in a row. She let him for two years, and then she told him she had to pick a new costume. She said that she only got so many years, so many photos and she wanted to make the most of them.

Isn’t that what we all want, to make the most of what we have?

Don’t look too far ahead, don’t hold on too tight to what was – savor what’s right in front of you.

Posted on Categories First Person