I hear some version of the following sentence at least once a week:
It goes so fast. You should appreciate every moment because before you know it, your kids will be grown and you’ll wish they were this size again!
I hate when people tell me that. I don’t want to know that it’s going to “pass by in the blink of an eye”. You know why? Because that doesn’t just mean my kids will be in college before I know it. That also means, I AM THAT MUCH CLOSER TO DEATH.
Nothing shows the passage of time like a fully grown child. Why doesn’t anybody warn you about that? They are like forehead wrinkles come to life.
Also, when my daughter is screaming in the middle of the farmer’s market with a bag of organic chocolate chip cookies in her hands because we won’t let her eat one until after lunch (I know, first world preschool problems), I don’t want to appreciate that moment.
I’m never going to meet the stare of the woman who just sold my daughter the cookies and say, “Isn’t this fantastic?! I hope she stays this age 4EVA!” Or turn to the stranger questioning my parenting skills and say, “Hahahaha, three-year-olds. So much life in them. LOL!”
No, I’m gonna stand there waiting for her to either keep walking or stop crying or realize she’s embarrassing us both, suck that snot up like a big girl and forget this whole thing ever happened. (Well, maybe I’d blog about it and then forget it.)
Same as I’d like to forget the massive headcold that erupted in our house a few short weeks ago making Harlow’s face all blotchy and Mazzy’s nose all runny and my cough reverberate off the walls like a movie character on her deathbed. Isn’t a cough always death foreshadowing?
Hopefully, when my kids are off at Harvard and Oxford studying to be President, I’m not going to be home alone thinking about that time I filled a snotsucker with mucus or the time I had Mike pin Mazzy to the floor so I could forcefeed her amoxicillin.
Nope, those moments I’m hoping to forget too. Or at least remember them as I’ve accounted them in this blog. With humor and not with the agitation that existed during the actual event.
I think the secret to enjoying parenthood is not about appreciating every moment. That would be setting your expectations way too high and dooming yourself to fail. I failed five times just yesterday. The secret to enjoying parenthood is recognizing when you are in a memorable moment and appreciating it. Big or small.
Last month, on a particularly beautiful evening, instead of eating dinner and going through our normal bedtime routine, I suggested we all take a walk outside.
“But I’m in my pajamas!” Mazzy said sensibly.
“Well then, let’s take a walk in your pajamas!”
(NOTE TO SELF: Few things get three-year-olds more excited than the prospect of going out in public in clothes usually reserved for bedtime.)
I put Harlow in the carrier, Mike plopped Mazzy on his shoulders and we strolled around in perfect weather at the most beautiful time of night. Twilight, I believe they call it. Or in photography terms, “the magic hour”.
It was magical.
When Mazzy asked if we could go to the playground, instead of saying, “Nope, sorry kid, it’s too close to bedtime”, Mike and I turned to eachother, silently agreed, and said, “Okay, let’s go!”
Mazzy ran around that playground like she owned it, owl pajamas and all. The sun backlit my husband’s silhouette as he hoisted Mazzy in the air and spun her around as she giggled uncontrollably, all while Harlow slept soundly nuzzled against my chest.
I appreciated THAT moment.
At the end of last week, my mom took us out to dinner. I don’t know why the restaurant gods smiled down on us that day but Mazzy stayed seated and actually ate her meal. Harlow spent the entire time occupied by a drink menu and a spoon. When Mazzy was finished eating, she didn’t run around the table pissing off fellow diners, she turned to Harlow and tried to make her laugh. And to make the evening more amazing, Mazzy’s comedy act actually worked. Harlow laughed which delighted Mazzy and I watched my children really play together for the first time.
I appreciated that moment too.
Last Saturday, we had Harlow’s baby naming, which is a Jewish ritual where you give a baby girl her Hebrew name. Mike and I aren’t very religious but our cousin, Elyssa is studying to be a rabbi, so as we did with Mazzy, we asked her to perform a personal ceremony at my mom’s house.
Lately, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the kids, my job, the blog, so truth be told, leading up to the event, I didn’t give Harlow’s naming that much thought. Elyssa planned the service, my mom hosted the event and took care of most of the food, while my stepmom brought drinks and dessert.
Our job was only to show up.
It wasn’t until Mike and I were standing up there, holding our baby in front of our closest family and friends that I recognized the significance of the moment. Elyssa spoke about the meaning of Harlow’s chosen Hebrew name, Ginat Chayim.
Harlow is named after Mike’s father Harold who passed away three years ago. Chayim, which means “Life”, is not only Harold’s Hebrew name, it is a name that has been passed down in their family. Harlow’s middle name is Eden which has significance for three reasons. First, Harold’s middle name was Edward, so Eden gives Harlow the same initials as her late grandfather. Secondly, my maiden name is Rosengarten so it possesses a similar meaning to Eden, both referencing a garden. Thirdly, my middle name is Eve which has biblical significance closely tied to Eden, Eden being where Adam and Eve were born. Ginat means “Garden”. Together, Ginat Chayim means “Garden of Life”.
I swear, I knew all of this before Saturday, but it wasn’t until I was forced to stand still and think of nothing else but Elyssa’s words welcoming my youngest daughter to this earth that I truly appreciated the significance of my little “Garden of Life”.
It wasn’t until Mazzy, who was sitting on the couch in Grammy’s lap, ran up and grabbed my leg so that she could stand with us as a family, that I knew she saw the importance of the moment too.
Later that night, I was reading Mazzy a book before bed. Often, I try to rush through our bedtime routine because I am itching to relax with Mike on the couch or write something for the blog or catch up on television or finally put away the toys in the living room.
On this night though, Harlow and Mazzy both sat on my lap. Harlow was relaxed as opposed to trying to crawl up my shoulder or rip the book out of my hand. Mazzy, for once, seemed content to share the space with her sister. I read slowly, drinking in my girls. I felt their full weight as they rested against me, listening intently, with one of my arms wrapped around each of them.
Mike appeared in the doorway and drank us in too.
Parenthood is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. But there are incredible moments that I try to recognize and appreciate when they happen, while they are happening, because they don’t happen every day.
It is these moments, when I really look at my children, when I share a glance over their heads with my husband, when I take in the fleeting beauty of my entire family, that I hope to remember when I’m old and wondering where all the time has gone.
Thank you to Elyssa for our beautiful baby naming. If you want to use her for a personalized service in your home, she will do the most amazing job. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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