Dear future Kate,
It is my assumption that when one looks back on child-rearing days they do so through rose-colored glasses, and I’m writing this letter to give you a reality check when you’re middle-aged.
I’ll start with a list of reasons that have led me to believe people romanticize the days when their babies were little.
- When I’m out with my two boys countless women, and sometimes men, stop me in the grocery store and Target (because those are about the only two places I go) to tell me to “enjoy this time” because it “goes so fast.” My quick response to that is “it wasn’t going so quick at 2 o’clock this morning!”
- The other comment I hear that sort of rubs me the wrong way is “this is the best time of your life.” This is it? Exhaustion, sweatpants, poo and spit up. This is it for me?
- During my oldest son’s 18-month checkup, the pediatrician (I am not making this up) got misty-eyed thinking about his own teenage children when they were young. I found it odd, as he examines children every single day for his job and all.
- Actually, a nurse at the same office, during an different appointment, also got choked up when my child’s glow worm played lullabies. Her twins turned 14 that day and she was taken down memory lane. Or maybe my little Luca just makes people cry, I don’t know.
Despite my seemingly annoyed attitude toward these moms and dads, I empathize. As my six-month-old gets older I occasionally cry because I know he’s growing out of babyhood. It’s in those moments I ask myself if I’d like to have a newborn forever, and the answer is vehemently no. Ha! But with all of these strangers willing to go out of their way to give me advice, it still makes me wonder, is this the best time of my life? Is this the time I will mourn and long to have back? Maybe so, but not without being reminded of the cold, hard truth about mommyhood. So here it goes, this is what you’re missing:
- I am tired! I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in two years.
- I am never alone. Not in the bathroom, not in my bed, not shopping or working. So if there’s something I need to do, I better think about how I can do it with two little ones in tow.
- We don’t leave the house very often. We have a rigorous nap schedule around here. Luca takes one three-hour nap and Adriano takes three 1-hour naps, so trying to squeeze an errand or playdate is tricky.
- My house is messy and I cannot decorate it to my heart’s content due to baby-proofing and toys. Decorative objects on the coffee table? I don’t think so. Pretty lamps on either side of the couch? No way.
- I miss wearing hoop earrings and strapless dresses.
- The songs I usually have in my head are not from a cool new band, or even the Top 40. They’re from “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Go Diego Go!” Well, you might not care about that now that you’re old, but it stinks now.
- And I probably won’t miss changing approximately 15 diapers a day and the messes that go along with them.
I could go on, but you get the point. Having these sweet babies is rewarding and fun (despite the aforementioned list of why it is not fun), but it takes some sacrifices.
What the present me should take away from this: Try to be present when you’re playing with your kids. Be in the moment and try to forget about dinner, work, dishes just for a bit. That’s all you can do. You can look back knowing you enjoyed it while you were there, and look forward to what will surely be the next best part of your life!
What the future me should take away from this: The next time you see a young mother in the grocery store with her little ones, don’t look back and wish you could relive past moments. And don’t tell her “it goes so quick” because it’s not going so quick for her right now. But do smile at her when her toddler is screaming for a fruit pouch in the middle of the aisle. She’ll be grateful you’re not judging her.
Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. Ecclesiastes 7:10
(Click image above to download 8×10 Ecclesiastes poster.)