I saw a woman in Price Chopper a few weeks ago with a cute little toddler in her cart. We kept running into each other every other aisle, as we worked the store from one end to the other, but going up and down the aisles in the opposite pattern.
Then one of us must’ve skipped an aisle, because suddenly I found myself heading in the same direction as her, and her cart was blocking my path. She was busy examining something on the shelf, and as I approached the cart with her child in it, I said, “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna run off with her. I’m done. I have a 25-year-old and a 15-year-old, and I don’t want to go back to this stage.”
She smiled and replied with just one word: “Lucky.”
I moved her cart out of my way, went back to my cart, and as I passed the two of them, I was reminded of something I’d thought a few months earlier when one of my Facebook friends posted on how quickly her kids were growing up. And then I turned to her and said:
Some people will tell you to enjoy these days because you’ll never get them back, but I’m gonna tell you something different…you’ll enjoy every stage. You’ll particularly enjoy it when she gets old enough to do things by herself and clean up after herself. So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to hold on to these days.
She smiled again and thanked me. But this bears repeating for all the rest of you with young children who seem to be growing up too fast: You’ll enjoy every stage.
I know parents who seem bound and determined to keep their children as little kids that they can have around the house forever. Little kids who they’re constantly cleaning up after and having to harp on to do things that ought to be done. Parents who are reluctant to give their kids the wings they need in order to successfully fly.
I’m not that parent.
I remember doing the little dance when my oldest daughter (with a bit of bribery) was finally potty trained. I remember doing that same dance when my second daughter mastered that same skill. Oh sure, they were both cute at three years old, but boy, could they make a mess (and a stink) in their pants. I was more than happy to see those days go by.
I have photos of my oldest standing on a stool at age seven to make a cake with the mixer in the kitchen, and was pleased when she finally learned how to cook for herself. I’m still trying to coerce her 15-year-old sister into gaining that same skill.
I remember fighting with the 25-year-old over doing homework when she was in fifth grade, and remember how happy I was when she suddenly became self-motivated in sixth.
I remember how we had to fight with our 15-year-old over practicing piano; and now that it’s been five years since we let her give up lessons, I enjoy the fact that she asks me to write out music for her to play.
Let’s face it, none of us really wants our kids to be five years old forever. Sure, when I look at the old photos, I’d like to go back to visit for a time, but I don’t want to live there again. Life is good with the older, and more responsible versions of my kids.
Even after they’ve successfully flown the nest.
So enjoy every stage, and be glad when they’ve moved on to the next.