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Faith, Modern Perspectives, Motherhood, Parenthood

March 27, 2021

I Need This Advice More Today Than I Did Ten Years Ago

For more than ten years, I’ve been getting the same line when I’m at the grocery store with one of my kids: “Enjoy this time; they grow up so fast.”

When it was my oldest in the cart, I sometimes got angry because these seasoned, and I’m sure well-intentioned parents didn’t see the tantrum I’d just endured or how many times my sleep had been interrupted the night before.

When it was one of my next two, I nodded along because I thought I knew well enough what they meant.

When it was my toddler, I kind of got a kick out of surprising people by agreeing, then sharing that this is my fourth baby, not my first.

A decade into parenting, I’m suddenly and increasingly grateful that this line is playing on loop. The fact that my oldest is entering a new stage of life means that I need this advice more now than I did when he was a baby. It’s calling me to pay attention to the baby-turned-toddler-turned-boy-turned-tween who wakes up at the crack of dawn every morning with a new project to take on, a new scene to play out.

When this boy, my first baby, was little, I was with him all day. I witnessed every word he spoke and every step he took. I saw every bit of his growing up, and for the most, I did enjoy it.

Over the few years—quarantine aside—the majority of his time was not spent with me. He was at school, at karate and piano lessons, with his friends at basketball practice, with his siblings making LEGO creations in the basement. He still shared a lot of what he was thinking and dreaming with me, but more and more, he’s also fighting the boundaries we have set and looking for space to decide for himself.

This stage of parenting him is a new kind of challenge—more mentally and emotionally challenging, if less physically so. And with younger kids in our family who need more physical attention by virtue of their age, I do need to make a more intentional effort to pay attention to how quickly my big guy is changing, to how he’s experiencing life’s challenges and joys.

Now, as he’s learning who he is and what he’s called to, when we’re all learning the ways in which that extends beyond the walls of our home, I need to be reminded to enjoy this time with him. To not gripe about the times we butt heads. To accept a certain amount of whining and protest as appropriate for his age. This time can feel rough, but it really is going pretty fast.

Yes, this stage is hard. And yes, I’m often less sure of what I’m doing raising him than I am the current toddler.

But I also trust that God gave this boy to me and me to him because we are exactly what the other needs.

I’m growing and changing as a mother as quickly as he is changing as a young man. Sometimes I want to give into the frustrations and doubts of this season and wish he was a little boy again. But that means I would miss right now—the beauty and adventure of one of my favorite people in the world learning who he is, what he was made for, and how he will choose to live the one precious life he’s been given.

One day, I will be that older woman in the grocery store telling a younger mother to enjoy her child. They do grow up so fast. I hope and pray that I will offer this advice not out of nostalgia for my own past as a mother, but in celebration of the people my children have grown to be and the woman I’ve become right alongside them.

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