The Joy of Raising Young Children

Well, it’s happening. The beginning of the end. The end of the beginning. Whichever way I look at it, a new era is slowly creeping in—the era of humiliating my children.

I realized things were changing last week when I walked my daughter to her school after spring break. As usual, I was making up a silly song about her life. This particular rendition was something along the lines of “Nicole, please don’t go back to school. I will miss you. What will we do without you?”

She used to love my songs. But this time, she fought back her smile and said, “Mom, please. Stop.”

So, I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I sang the song even louder when we got into the school lobby. She rolled her eyes. Let me repeat that in case the magnitude didn’t quite set in: SHE ROLLED HER EYES. At that moment, I knew. The era of embarrassing parents has begun.

I’ve been through this before, only I was on the other side of that eye roll. I was the roller, not the rollee. But now, here I am, still as awesome and hip as I ever was, but somehow dorkier and more ridiculous and hugely embarrassing.

As I watched my daughter walk to her kindergarten class as quickly as she could, all I could think was how I wasn’t ready for things to change. OK, I belted out one more quick chorus of “Nicole don’t go,” and then I thought about the fleeting nature of motherhood.

Everyone knows childhood and motherhood fly by. But right now I feel particularly panicked by how fast life is moving. I want to grab it, tie it down and make it stop. Just stop for a minute. Just let me catch my breath. Just let me memorize my daughters’ faces and voices. Just let me memorize all the moments — the heart-stopping, heartbreaking, heart-pounding moments — of being a mother to young children.

But I can’t. Time keeps on rushing over me. If nothing else, I want to reach out and grab just a few things to hold on to a little longer:

Waking up to the warmth of little bodies snuggled next to mine. Waking up ten minutes later to toes in my nose and elbows slung across my face.

The sight of a tear-streaked toddler running with outstretched arms for Mommy because only she can stop the hurt.

The sound of giggles and bath water.

The scamper of tiny footsteps on wood floors.

The smell of freshly-washed hair while reading bedtime books.

The whisper of “I love you, too” from tired lips.

The feel of a small, familiar hand slipping into my own.

One day I will reach out my hand like I’ve done a million times before . . . and it will be left empty. I will wake to more than enough room in bed. And it will take a heck of a lot less than singing in the school lobby to embarrass my kids.

I can already see the changes coming. Change is good; it is what raising children is all about. I know the sounds and smells and moments of motherhood will continue to fill my home and life, just in different ways.

But I will miss these years with young children under my wings. I will miss them more than I can say.

How do you adjust to the changing stages of motherhood? What will you miss most about having young children at home?







One comment

  1. Linda

    Wow. One of the paradoxes of the whole thing is years later you’re left with a wonderful person who seems better than anybody, yet you treasure all those moments. Yet I can’t really say what I miss, as so much of it was really hard. Like my husband who had 2 before mine was born, I like having the wonderful person more than the little kid.

    I think what I miss most is the other children, being part of a community of mothers (and a few fathers) and children.

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