If you have small children and you take them out in public, you’re a magnet for people to come talk to you. They compliment your kids, and inevitably, they’ll say something like, “It goes so quickly! My babies are 43 and 45, but it seems like just yesterday they were this age.”
I know this drives some parents nuts. “Don’t tell me it’s going quickly! This is the unending day of temper tantrums and sweeping food off the floor and dirty diapers and disobedient toddlers. There is nothing quick about this, lady!” And while that’s fair, I truly think these well-meaning moms and dads with a few more years under their belts aren’t trying to tell us that these days with little kids aren’t difficult. They aren’t trying to tell us that things aren’t hard and that the hours until bedtime don’t defy physics with how slowly they tick by.
Deep down, I believe what they’re trying to say is this: when you look at your 3 year old, you can hardly believe she was once the little baby you brought home from the hospital. And in the same way, when you look at your 35 year old, you can hardly believe he was once the rebellious 17 year old or the mischievous 6 year old.
I think what they’re saying is this: time is tricky.
Last weekend, ten very special young ladies walked across the stage of our local high school and graduated. Many of them received extra honors, and all of them are off to do great things. I’ve had the privilege of being their small group leader at our church, and they each inspire me in a thousand ways with their energy, resilience, intelligence, and curiosity.
As I watched the graduation ceremony unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder what it will be like when my kids walk across their own graduation stage. I bet I’ll be thinking what those well-meaning older mamas in Aldi tell me: it goes so fast. I blinked. How did we get here? Weren’t we just learning how to walk, figuring out buttons, and playing in the mud?
I’m not very far into this gig, but I can already see why these grocery store ladies say what they do. Having just celebrated the 3 year mark since I donned the title of “Mama,” I already have a tiny taste of it. Wasn’t she a newborn not too long ago? Didn’t she just learn to crawl? Or say her first word? When did she start talking in full sentences and memorizing alarmingly large portions of her favorite books?
Since we can’t change the speed of the clock or skip over the hard days, I propose a toast. Here’s to milestones, both big and little. To acknowledging these days with little people can be long, but that they’ll also fly by. Here’s to birthdays and learning new things and growing up little by little. Here’s to admitting that we’re all growing up here, and that becoming a fully grown person is a lot of work for all of us.
I’m in it for the long haul. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be than living this simple, happy, beautiful life.