During Will and Hallie's baby and toddler years, I found the commonly uttered phrase "enjoy every moment" both frustrating and disheartening.
You've been there, right?
It's 10am. You've been awake for five hours, and in that time you've fed your children three times, been thrown up on three times, cleaned smashed banana out of the cat's fur, changed four diapers, wiped pee up off the playroom floor, rescued a Power Ranger action figure from the toilet, unclogged the toilet, and mopped up the flooded bathroom. You haven't eaten, showered, gotten dressed, or even brushed your teeth.
How many of those moments did you enjoy?
Telling parents - especially new parents, whose days feel like weeks and whose nights require superhuman strength to endure - to "enjoy every moment" often comes across, no matter how well-intentioned, as cruel. These new moms and dads love their babies tremendously, but they simply aren't enjoying every moment.
And telling new parents that kids grow up so fast and time goes by so quickly? Well, those lines sound like great big lies, because in their world, the kids aren't growing up so fast and time isn't going by so quickly. If they're anything like me when I had an infant at home, new parents are wondering how it's possible their (according to the calendar) five-month-old won't head off to kindergarten in the fall because it feels like they've been caring for that baby for five years.
Today Will starts sixth grade. SIXTH GRADE. And Hallie - my BABY - starts fourth grade. FOURTH GRADE. Her last year of elementary school.
Holy smokes...they DO grow up so fast. Time DOES go by so quickly.
This is all quite difficult to wrap my head around, considering it seems like just yesterday I quietly stewed - and then later cried in my car - when a woman at the farmers market tousled six-month-old Will's curls and exclaimed, "what a big boy! Enjoy every moment with him!"
Where am I going with this? To be honest, I didn't know the first time I shared this post and I still don't know now, years later.
What I do know is that telling parents - of children of any age - to enjoy every moment often makes them feel worse rather than better. I know that telling new parents that kids grow up so fast or time goes by so quickly often comes off as a cliche or even a lie. And I know that while the minutes feel like hours, the hours like days, and the days like weeks when those babies are teeny tiny, at some point the clock speeds up and you can NEVER slow it back down.
I still don't enjoy every moment, but this morning, as I sent Will off to sixth grade and Hallie off to fourth grade, I am yet again forced to acknowledge that they DO grow up so fast. That it DOES go by so quickly.
First Days of Kindergarten
So, to all of the kiddos starting or heading back to school, good luck. To all of the teachers guiding our children's academic, social, and emotional learning, thank you for giving so much of yourselves to your job. And to all of the parents whose hearts are bursting with love and fear and pride and grief all at the same time, I feel you.