MamaBlogger365 – They Grow Up So Quickly by Lowry Manders

What I know for sure… “They grow up so quickly!” “They grow up too fast…”, “Time flies…”, “Enjoy every moment…” – (Fill in the common aphorism about growing children, and you get the gist.)

As parents, we hear some form of this message all the time from those who’ve been there, done that, paved the way. And we usually nod and smile, then get back to the busy, sticky, exhausting business of parenting – “Wash your hands after you rub them all over the toilet seat…”, “Sit, don’t dance in the chair…”, “Use your fork for the beans, not your fingers…”, “Don’t put ketchup on your sister’s head.” Are these the moments we’re supposed to enjoy?

But the other day, when I least expected it, this universal truth of the “transience of life and childhood” (blah-blah-blah, wax philosophical) actually began to hit home for me in an “A-ha!” moment of sorts.

Audrey reading to Ellie | Credit: Lowry Manders

I was sitting with Ellie and our big-girl friend Audrey (8) at her house. We were snuggled on the couch and Audrey was proudly showing us a photo album of her baby-tot pictures. I hardly recognized her, though I’d known her back then. Those chubby cheeks and roly-poly legs are gone, and now she’s a lovely young woman doing pirouettes and reading Harry Potter books, talking about the pre-teen store Justice for Girls and point shoes – no signs of baby left in her. How can that be? It seems like just days ago that I knew LITTLE Audrey. I literally caught my breath as the realization hit me like a punch in the gut! Oh my God, this thing that happened to Audrey is happening to my kids, too – right before my eyes and under my nosethey are growing up! My kids!

Audrey meeting Ellie, 2 years ago | Credit: Lowry Manders

As we looked at “baby” Audrey, Ellie proudly spoke up: “I’m not a baby anymore either.” I snuggled her with tears in my eyes and asked her to stay 2 forever! (That is, minus the sippy-cup-throwing, body-convulsing tantrums, please.) As we left that evening, our friend Benjamin (6) refused MJ’s attempt at a hug because he is “too big for that.” Quick, somebody stop the clock! I don’t think I can handle this “growing up” thing! That night when my kids were all tucked in and fast asleep, I took a peek at them before going to bed, trying to soak up the essence of the way they are right now, still my precious babies, still with Mommy as the center of their expanding worlds, still under my roof! (Not to mention, quite angelic when they are sleeping. Late at night is a really good time to have positive thoughts about your children, but I digress.)

What I know for sure… I want to make the most of these days because all too soon they’ll be “those” days. These days like today when singing “Peanut, peanut butter… and Ellie!” made E laugh with her biggest chuckle, when she just wanted Mommy to hold her for comfort after a big face-plant on the patio. These days when Michael James still wants me to tell him a story at night-time and snuggle in bed with him, when he initiates a kiss on the lips before I leave, and we tell each other we’ll meet in our dreams. These days when I know the only thing that it takes to really make them happy is my physical presence – my unique smell, touch, voice. The next day as I was pushing the kids in the double-stroller around the neighborhood, a middle-aged woman on her morning walk smiled at us, said she remembers those days, and now her son is in college. I can’t even go there in my mind – Michael James going off to his own real life away from me! (Well, not true… on bad days, I find myself “escaping” to that fantasy in my mind quite often. But usually, I can’t even fathom the emptiness of an empty nest.)

What I know for sure… I want to practice being truly present with them so I don’t miss out on creating meaningful moments each day with my children, etching indelible memories into my Mommy brain and heart for the years to come. (I know, I know… these experiences are vital for their healthy emotional development in the formative years, blah, blah, blah… but what about me? I’m speaking purely selfishly now!) I want these love-filled memories for the years when I’ll be the middle-aged empty-nester just twiddling my thumbs until I get some grandkids.

Yes, parenting young children is exhausting work, and I never tell a new parent, “Enjoy every moment” because frankly, a lot of the moments SUCK! But in between the awful moments (both kids screaming in the car, both kids fussing in the grocery cart), “Enjoy the enjoyable moments.” Both kids snuggled with you reading on the couch. Both kids laughing together as they “wash” your hair in the pool. Both kids smiling, singing, and holding your hands as you cross the street. Don’t miss them because you’re too tired or cranky or overwhelmed or busy. Slow down and recognize them… let them nourish your spirit… let them put a smile on your face… allow time to paint that mental picture in your head… and give thanks for these days.

Bio: I am a parent and music teacher, a teacher of parents, a child development expert, a writer and blogger. I feel I have valuable ideas to share, funny stories from my own parenting adventures, and hopefully, thoughtful reflections that will speak to YOU as a struggling mommy, because we’re all in this together! My mission is helping families to MAKE CONNECTIONS: connections in little growing brains and emotional connections that will last a lifetime, giving young children the foundations they need to achieve their full potential, even while creating more meaningful moments for parents with their kids. I created “Parent with Purpose” classes and mommymanders.com to share practical and inspirational ideas with fellow sojourners on this important path, and to help us all to feel connected to that best parent within us.

You are invited to join Mommy Manders and “Wee Volunteer” for “Good Deeds Week”, Aug. 13th-Aug. 20th, 2011. Lots of great ideas for giving back with your little ones! Check out how you can participate anytime, anywhere.

Support MamaBlogger365 and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011! Your tax-deductible donation in ANY amount will help us make our September POP-UP exhibit in NYC a permanent reality – visit our Members page to learn more.

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