Zen and the Art of Mothering


We all know that our time with our kids is much too fleeting. Even though we seem to always be wishing for the roads to thaw or the summer to end, we know we need to hang on to these precious moments while we can have them.

The passage of time seems ever-more prominent at this time of year, when everyone is going back to school. My birthday was last week, and the girl’s is tomorrow.

She will be five.

Five.

It seems kind of unfathomable.

girl train
The girl and I on a train, summer of 2011.

We were stuck in that mire of not sleeping, having a preemie who was so needy, and then not a baby but totally attached, still not sleeping, still pretty darn needy.

And then, almost without us noticing (though, really, we noticed, we just don’t quite remember when it happened) she started sleeping through the night more often than not. Nighttime potty training wasn’t awesome, but after that bump she still mostly sleeps through the night.

And she’s more independent than I would have thought possible in those days when the only time we were apart was at MOPS meetings, and she cried the whole time. She still remembers that.

She’s also smart and funny and fierce and sweet. Opinionated, bossy (yes, I said it) and prone to melodrama. And beautiful, though that’s far from the most important thing.

girl mud
A more recent picture, while making mud sculptures in the yard.

As much as I honor how far we’ve come and how much farther we still have to go, there is no part of me that wishes I could pause time or go back to some other stage.

I see that all the time from people — OK, from moms — on Facebook and elsewhere. Statements like “please stop growing” or “don’t get any older” I’m sure are meant innocently and don’t take into account what would have to happen for that wish to come true.

We want them to grow and become their own people and, yes, not to need us any more. I have seen it said, though I don’t remember the quote well enough to find out who said it, that parenting is the only job where success means you’re out of a job. That really is the goal. Not keeping them little and cute forever, or even wishing that could happen.

As we are in the moment with our kids, that doesn’t mean we hang on to the moment, wishing it wouldn’t end.

It always ends. We can’t do anything about that.

Instead, we need to be there, making the memories and not just taking pictures of them. We need to enjoy our kids and let them enjoy us, because the memories are much more lasting than the actual moment.

So I vow to spend this weekend cherishing every moment I can with my little one, probably my only one, who will only turn five once.

And then I’ll get ready for the next adventure.

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