When The Days No Longer Feel Long

Eight years.

My oldest son told me he will “be a grown up” in eight years.

He has gangly teeth, a sweet disposition, and loves shooting baskets in the driveway with his little brother. His favorite meal is still chicken nuggets. And he still needs me to scratch his back before he falls asleep.

And yet he will be ready to take on the world in eight years. Eight short years.

That same night, as I sat on the couch metaphorically trying to catch my breath after our conversation, my youngest son woke up crying. As I snuggled him on the couch, tears streamed down my face.

I carried my {three year old} baby back to his room and thought about how I couldn’t remember the last time I carried my older three children to their beds.

You never know when this moment will be the last.

I could barely sleep as these words echoed in my mind the rest of the night.

I spent ten years buying diapers by the truckload.
Then one day, I passed the baby aisle at Target and realized I hadn’t ventured that way in quite some time.
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I spent hours and hours and hours awake in the middle of the night, wondering if I would ever sleep again.
And then one night, I did.

When my kids were all little, the days were sooooooooooo looooooooong. It would feel like we had been awake and playing for hours. And the clock would read 9:17 am. Every day felt like it would never end.

And then, one day, without warning, the days no longer felt long.

The coveted nap time gave way to afternoons spent outside playing basketball in the driveway.

The dreadful witching hour is spent driving to football practice instead of enduring a fussy baby and tantrumy toddler.

And there doesn’t feel like enough hours in the day to invest in each child.

I don’t know exactly when the turning point happens, but the long and slow days turn into moments that move so fast you can hardly catch your breath.

I will never tell you to enjoy every moment. Because I don’t think there has ever been a day when I enjoyed the witching hour with a baby.

But I will tell you that if I had known when a moment would be the last, I would have taken the time to enjoy it.

Because when you have a baby…and especially when you have four babies in six years…it feels like your kids will always be little.

There will always be time to feel your baby kicking in your belly.
There will always be time to rock your baby to sleep.
There will always be time to turn a spoon into an airplane to get your baby to eat.
There will always be time to read another book.
There will always be time to sing another lullaby.

And then your child starts talking about his favorite football player, wonders aloud what it would be like to live on Mars, and complains about long division.

It turns out there isn’t always time.

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The time that felt like it would never end all of a sudden feels too short to teach everything that needs to be taught.

I realize I am being a bit dramatic (would you expect anything less?) because I have a three year old and my kids are still young. I am still washing sippy cups and still occasionally lose sleep with a sick child and still lock myself in my room for a few moments of sanity.

It feels like I will always have children at home.
Like my house will always be busting at the seams with laughter, endless energy, and toys strewn about.

But the day will come when my kids prefer their friends to each other.
When the dinner table is missing a kid or two who are away at college.
When my son doesn’t home for Christmas because he plans to propose to his girlfriend at her favorite hometown spot (obviously I will be coaching him on this one).

This will all be sooner than later.
The future is good, and children are supposed to grow up.
So I do not mourn what is ahead. And what will eventually end.

Instead, I enjoy what is now. And try to savor the ordinary moments that feel like they’ll last forever…because I now know better.

I linger in my kids’ beds a little longer at night.
I pinch my toddler’s booty every time I help him get dressed.
I listen to their conversations in the car.
I laugh at their knock-knock jokes.
I play another game of basketball because the weather is perfect.
I let them be the first to end a hug. I hold on as long as they let me.
I buy their favorite treat at the grocery store.
I serve ice cream for dinner. Just because.
I let them stay up way too late watching their favorite movie.

And when they have a bad dream and want to crawl into bed with me, I smile and savor the moment.

Because the only thing harder than kids who need you all of the time is kids who don’t need you at all.

(I told you I’m dramatic.)

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “When The Days No Longer Feel Long

  1. Thanks, I’m a freaking pregnant hormonal mess now! I cannot adequately express to you how how much this affected me. Boy have I had my share of parenting failures and emotional freak outs lately. So much so that I was reaching out to a friend tonight asking her what she thought I should do about my oldest sons recent behavior. When I got off the phone I ran into your post and it was exactly what I needed. Thank you.

    Like

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