When my firstborn was seven months old, we went on vacation for a week. A feat, for sure, and full of good memories, but when we returned home, he looked so much older. What the heck was in that beach air?
Now, I look at his baby brother who is too quickly nearing that same age and decide time is a fleeting, fickle thing. “They grow up so fast,” new parents hear from well-meaning family, friends, and strangers. “Cherish every moment.”
Diaper blowouts, sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and the pain of labor are not among my cherished moments. I’m thankful for the passing of certain seasons, miss others, or am a combo of the two. Despite the exhaustive blur that is the newborn stage, having a second baby reminded me how much I adore those early snuggles, even at 3 a.m. I look forward to seeing my children grow and learn, but I cling to how they are now, wanting it to last longer. I’ve heard advice to “be in the moment,” but I doubt I’ve mastered or even know for sure what this looks like in practice. Sometimes I’m so darn tired, I don’t recognize my appreciation for the moment until it’s passed, or come around again, like newborn snuggles.
As we consider planning our first vacation as a family of four, I think back on that first one as three. It wasn’t without challenges, but we talk about that time with fondness, even laughing at some of the rough spots. Maybe it’s OK not to recognize our appreciation for a moment until it’s a memory; perhaps we see more clearly looking back. Maybe trying too hard in the moment can make us miss what’s truly important about it. Maybe a hope for what’s to come helps us when we’re in the rough patches.
Cliché that it is, my kids are growing too fast. I’m happy with many of the memories we’ve made so far, love so much about who they are today, and I’m excited for the future. Yet, some of those times have been, are, and will be tough ones. I need all the parts together, the good and the bad, and that’s what makes a lifetime of moments I can cherish.