I remember when my children were babies and toddlers, and people would often remark to me that ‘the days are long but the years are short’.
This is certainly very true, with some days feeling endless, yet I always felt that the years were long too, as if these little people had always been a part of my life, and like I’d been doing this ‘mothering’ thing forever.
My perspective, however, has changed as my children have grown older. With my husband and I working more and with all three children at school, I now feel as if the years are short, and the days are even shorter. When I look at my children, who are growing more and more into independent people (and isn’t that the goal?), I feel a touch of sadness that they are no longer small enough to curl into my lap, or that they have lives separate to mine.
Gone are the days of nursery rhymes, cute baby clothes and night time cuddles. Instead we have swimming carnivals, sleepovers, deodorant and three people who are able to make their own breakfast each morning (albeit with some arguing and mess).
We are also dealing with some challenges that were not there 5 years ago – dramas with friends, poor grades, not wanting to go to school, and battles over what can and can’t be worn out of the house. In some ways, I feel like the days of babies and toddlers were so much simpler and easier, although a friend kindly pointed out that I did not feel this way at the time. Too true.
And while I love my children’s independence, and the full night’s sleep I now get regularly, part of me wishes for simpler times where a Band-Aid fixed everything and when, if things were hard, we could stay at home and hide from the world (at least for a day).
The realisation I have had is that each age and stage of parenting brings with it different joys and different challenges. One stage is not necessarily harder than another. But perspective is important because it is too easy in any stage to feel so overwhelmed that you miss the beauty and joy of where your children are at. I spent many days, when my children were little, wishing that they were bigger. And now as I look back, I sometimes wish they were little again. I need to shift my focus to right now, to appreciating all the joys and growth that we are experiencing each day. Because one day this stage too will be gone, and I don’t want to miss a thing.
So to all the pre-school mothers out there, my advice is this. Yes, the stage of babies and toddlers brings with it many challenges and the days can feel very, very long. But one day your children will grow and things will change. And I promise you will get through this and see the other side. Enjoy the beautiful moments that are unique to your children right now.
To all the mothers of children who are older, my advice is this. Let us look back fondly on the years that are past, treasuring the memories and celebrating our success at navigating through them. Let us also enjoy the now, even when the days are busier and feel shorter than before.
And let us all look with eager anticipation to the years ahead, as our children grow into unique individuals, with joys that will become memories and challenges that will help us grow.
Because mothering matters, and we are privileged to be part of the motherhood.