During most of our early days as parents, we basically transcend from one day into the next like a slow moving hippo playing in the mud. The light is dark at the end of the tunnel, seasoned parents will tell us that it will pass and we will miss it. The good, the bad, and every stench in between will be missed. My gut reaction to this was an eye roll, awkward laugh, and meaningless grin. I could not imagine missing the exact things that made me cry with frustration and sleep deprivation.
Fast forward seven years, and I am an (almost) seasoned mom, here to tell you to sit back and relish in the mundane, not because you will miss it, but because you will regret it if you rush it. You will look back and ask yourself if you appreciated the small things that shaped and reinforced the true strength that it takes to be a parent. Honor the moments that create stories and memories for years to come, the good and the deeply painful.
Turns out, I have been changing diapers for the last 2,501 days, and I just changed my last child’s. Of course, he was ready right about the time my monthly order of two boxes of diapers was delivered. Two boxes that I will donate to another in need, two boxes that I keep trying to ignore sitting in the garage because deep down it was the last baby moments we had at nearly three and a half years old.
Diaper changes were terrifying with a newborn; I feared I would hurt my child somehow. I feared the monstrous poop that would happen immediately following my husband putting the tabs on too loose. We laughed, cried and said a few cuss words, but we always kissed their tiny toes and whispered words of love in their little ears once we contained them (or “lovingly” held them down with whatever we could). Those little toes fleet on by now, running faster and faster, harder and harder to catch up to.
Reminders of that precious time are everywhere. The booster seat has been sitting in the corner of the dining room floor for months. It blends in like décor that shouldn’t be changed. The crumbs are contained to the table these days and much to the disappointment to our very well fed dog, most of the food is actually eaten by small humans now. One lone bib sits on the pantry shelf, slightly stained with spaghetti sauce. Now all that remains of those epic meal time adventures are pictures of noodles on their noses, yogurt smeared in their hair, and faces that depict the likelihood of eating the same food twice.
The shirt collection with the stretched out necks from breastfeeding all night, they sit in my pajama drawer and have grown to be my comfy stay at home all day shirts. The energy spent helping them dislodge my breasts from these very shirts when I was absolutely too exhausted to help is a distant memory but the satisfaction of that sweaty head asleep on them will be in my heart always. My second had a terrible latch, reflux and screamed for HOURS every night. I threatened to throw in the towel numerous times, but as he grew, we were able to correct it and I learned that slowing down and calming down is what we both needed.
Countless hours are spent stressing on if we did our kids proud in a day, did we hug them enough, ask them enough questions, and teach them enough. We did. You did. I promise. The little things you do each day that seem to run in circles are the exact things that will make your circle complete.
Luckily, these moments last far beyond the baby proofing years, and far beyond wiping countless bottoms. The even more seasoned moms can tell me what to look forward to and what to not be afraid of, but for now, I will slow down and enjoy this stage for a while.