It gets me every time. Those side-by-side pictures featuring the first day of school and the last day of school. Without fail those kiddos have grown in maturity both physically and emotionally and socially and all the above.
A scroll through the phone photo app and the differences from “this time last year” to today shows a stark change: Less baby, looking older, glimpses of what the future will hold.
It doesn’t just tug at my mama heart; it kinda rips it. Can anyone but a parent understand the anguish that comes when we realize how quickly “growing up” happens? As I am currently soaking in the toddler phase with my last baby (I need a moment. I just typed “last baby,” Boohoohoo.), I miss the bundle phase — when those tinies are a little bundle you can fit into your arms all wrapped and snug like a burrito. But alas, crawling turns into walking into running into climbing right out of my arms . . . and into kindergarten . . . and swim team . . . and fifth grade . . . and band try outs . . . and school dances . . . and geometry . . . and a hat and gown walking across a stage.
Isn’t that why we cringe and mourn the speed of childhood? Because we know with each milestone mastered, each phase left behind, our children are one step closer to leaving the nest. Our time with them at home is less and less. You know, the cliches are cliches for a reason: It goes by too fast. Enjoy them while they are little. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.
Yet knowing how true this all is and how quickly todays turn into yesterdays, we mothers still insist: Eat your vegetables. Pick up your toys. Brush your teeth. Get on that bike again and give it another try; I know you can do it!
We are simultaneously compelled by instinct and love to nurture and encourage and propel along all the while we are a wee bit sad that the growing up, the growing away is occurring. It’s the nature of parenthood. We worry and fret that potty training is not “taking” or taking too long. We cheer when the potty flushes, when the dry underwear makes it through the night, only to shed a tear the next day that your days of diapers are done. We worry about when she will walk, when he will be able to catch the baseball, if she can read at her grade level, if he can pass the history test, yet long for the days when they “needed” us like before.
It’s the beauty of motherhood. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way; maybe even it shouldn’t be any other way. It’s both the pouring and the mourning of a mother’s heart that makes her the nurturer she is.
So, don’t feel conflicted if you say at dinner, “Stop growing so fast, but eat your vegetables.” I totally know what you mean.