Oliver and Silas today - wow do those little preemie outfits look small now!
“They'll be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”
- Dorothy Evslin
I remember first reading this quote long ago when Oliver and Silas were newborns and I was overwhelmed with five preschoolers. It seemed like the fingerprints and messes and crying and feeding and spit-up and stinky diapers and constant demands on my attention from several sources simultaneously would be with me forever. But tomorrow my last babies, my twin boys, will turn four. I'm done with diapers and spit up and getting up in the night with babies. The strollers and high chairs and baby swings are sold or given away. The fingerprints are moving higher on the walls (and some of my kids are actually learning to wash their hands so there's not so much grime on everything!). My kids really are growing up!
I'm so happy to be done with the baby paraphernalia all over the house. I'm so grateful to be able to run out the door without having to grab diapers and wipes and bottles – I've been diaper bag free for over a year now! I love being able to talk to and reason with all my kids (at least most of the time). I love seeing them read and bike and dance and play basketball and do so many fun and exciting things. It's so great to be able to take them all on a bike ride or bowling or to a museum or on a road trip and have it actually be a fun experience for everyone including the parents.
But I'm sad too. No more wonder of feeling a baby move inside me for the first time. No more amazing excitement of childbirth. No more snuggling a sleeping baby and smelling that sweet newborn smell. No more seeing those first smiles. No more watching those first wobbly steps. No more hearing that first “mama.” No more watching a big brother or sister marvel over a new baby brother or sister. Oh, I miss my babies!
One era is gone and it was a great one – one I probably didn't appreciate enough at the time. It can be hard to really enjoy the “now” when you're getting slammed by so many hard things all the time. It can be easier to see the beauty in things that are past than in things that are present. As I look back, I realize the need to appreciate the beauty in the present more – to cherish the chances to snuggle my kids, to see them get so excited when I come help in their classrooms, to hear them beg for me to read them the next chapter in our book at bedtime, to have them clamor to tell me about something that happened at school that day. These are the beautiful things that are part of my normal days now – things that will be bright warm memories some day as those fingerprints move up the walls. I need to enjoy and appreciate the “now” a lot more so that I can crystallize these memories and keep them with me always while I find more joy in my daily life.
I hope that I'll never feel the way Anna Quindlen felt in looking back: “ The biggest mistake I made [as a mother] is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough.”
Kids really do grow up. Hard things really do get better – and then new hard things come along. Beauty really can be found every day. I'm recommitting myself to enjoying and cherishing the present. I do a pretty good job capturing it in pictures and writing but I need to do a better job really enjoying it when it happens and capturing it in my heart. I need to do a better job of pausing in the midst of the mayhem to really enjoy and reciprocate the spontaneous hug from Isaac or to really listen as Ashton tells me another rather long and somewhat disjointed story about something he heard or really look at the 1000th picture Eliza has drawn for me or take the time to really watch Si and Ollie as they imagine and play together or to really praise the great little things the kids do every day. Oh, there's so much to enjoy if I can just get my mind set to slow down and enjoy it!