A few weeks back I had all I could take of our current parenting situation. Our then two-month old son, Preston, who has multiple medical issues, had appointments at 8:50 and 1:50 at opposite ends of town, making it impossible for me to pick up or drop off our son Anderson, who has Down syndrome, at pre-school. Anderson only goes to school twice a week and I think these days are crucial for his development. Thankfully Andy has the world’s best boss and was able to take the day off to take Preston to his appointments.
I was planning on getting work done. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and I was behind on my duties for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, I had a pitching assignment for work and as for household chores…. well, these days I’m always behind. I was really tempted to drop Anderson off at school and spend the day at home with our daughter, Violet, who would let me get it all done. But instead.
Instead, I took her to the children’s museum. It was just Violet and me. I love taking Violet places. She so easily finds joy. Her body danced with excitement at each new thing she tried.
A girlfriend of mine has young children like me. That same day she posted on Facebook about the chaotic morning that had unfolded all before 8 a.m. It made me laugh. It made me feel normal. Because although I was wrapping up a near magical day of one on one time with my daughter, most of my days resemble the hard hilarity she described.
But her post was met with so many comments that made me feel a bit sad. The overarching theme was—that she would miss this all one day. In fact, I saw at least two separate people post lyrics of sappy country music songs. Two!
As parents of really young children, we are often told to enjoy this phase while it lasts. It goes by too quickly, they say. The notions come from good intentioned people, I know. But sometimes I don’t think we realize the negative impact our well-meaning words can have.
There’s so much pressure to find joy with our kids all of the time. And you know what? It’s impossible to cherish every moment of every day. It’s exhausting. And comments like these can often leave me feeling insecure—did I soak them in enough today? Are these years slipping through my fingers? Am I doing something wrong?
I know one day I will miss my kids being so little, so cute, so innocent. But there are some things I won’t miss that come with this phase. In fact, I’m pretty certain I won’t miss 3 a.m. feedings, toddlers pulling coffee cups off counter tops and the whining that comes every day around 4 p.m. I’m simply not capable of loving every part of every day when it comes to raising tiny humans.
But I am capable of soaking in the moments. When the opportunity presents itself, I can say “yes” to a meaningful day with my daughter and “later” to the less important things. I know I won’t get these kinds of chances next year when she starts Kindergarten.
I immersed myself that day at the museum with Violet. I took in the sound of her laugh, the dimple in her cheek and the way she moves her hands when she’s really excited. When I picked up my son from school later that day, I took a mental snapshot at the way he looked at me when I got to his classroom and then proceeded to lay his head on my shoulder and pat me twice on the back—the way he always does when he’s really content. And my sweet babe? I selfishly loved how he smiled only for me during that time.
I know children are precious—that’s a large reason why I keep having them. I know that the rewards outweigh the difficulties, but the difficulties are still present and at times heavy. So, I look for the sweet moments in the chaotic, exhausting and often long days. When I find them, I relish, I rest and I do my best to treasure. And that’s enough.
Midweek moral wrap-up: 1) I believe the cliché that— not every day is good, but there’s good in every day- is largely true. We have to keep our eyes peeled for those moments and sometimes seize opportunities when they present themselves. 2) My friend that I mentioned is not a complainer. I’m not talking about the people who are always complaining. But so often we (me included) offer well-meaning advice when someone just needs some encouragement or in this case, just someone to laugh with us.