Seasons of Love


I had occasionally heard the phrase “it’s only a season” bandied about, but never more so than after becoming a parent. I don’t know if this is the official go-to comment to say to a person dealing with troublesome parenting issues, but I have been told, and have even told others, “Don’t worry; it’s only a season,” meaning, of course, that it—whatever it is—will pass, and you’ll feel silly you ever thought it was a problem to begin with after it’s over, assuming you even remember it at all. Oh, your teething baby had you up all night? Don’t worry; it’s only a season. Your toddler refuses to say anything but “no”? It’s only a season, isn’t it? Your teenager ran off to join a biker gang and took your motorcycle? Relax; it’s only a season. And so on. The basic message is this: There will be a period of time when things are one way, and then, gradually, eventually, things will be different. Repeat.

I like this idea of measuring periods of parenting as seasons. It makes everything sound very natural and beyond my control, which is quite a load off. However, it makes for rather nebulous calendar meetings. “When do you want to take our family vacation this year?” “Oh, let’s say right after the season of potty training but before we start into the season of being addicted to Peppa Pig. Does Southwest have good flights then?” Not always the most efficient measures of time, seasons of parenthood serve to remind us that this amazing journey is a continuum and not merely a list of unrelated events.

For me, time used to roughly follow the more traditional systems of measurement: clocks, calendars, and television programming schedules. I fit my life into those constructs pretty easily; any complications with these measurements were just set to record on the DVR. In my life I have mostly been diurnal, with only a few periods of time where I was nocturnal. Now I am something like omniurnal: always awake, or at least always ready to be awake. “Bedtime” means something for the kiddos, but less so for me these days. You don’t ever get to clock out for your job as a parent. You just work straight through the night—while you sleep, if possible—and wake up mid-parental stride. And this goes for parents who work outside of the home as well as those who are holding down fort. It’s an interesting thing, parenting: you can be absolutely terrible at it, but you can never quit. You can’t even be fired. I suppose you could be relieved of your responsibilities—even escorted out of the building, so to speak—but, no matter what, you are still going to be a parent. How’s that for job security?!

Anyway, I digress. Life used to seem more like a series of moments: painted macaroni beads being strung one after the other on a length of red yarn, a giant knot at one end to keep the memories from slipping off. My routine of wake up, do stuff, and go back to sleep, has now been augmented with all kinds of additions and distractions. The result is beautiful but certainly cannot be contained on a single string.

So how do we log these sometimes glorious, sometimes grueling moments? How do we mark these seasons? Birthdays help; they give us an annual frame of reference to compare growth and change, but parental time does not move at a constant rate, sometimes not even in a constant direction, and so these yearly markers do not always accurately reflect the previous 365 days. “The days are long, but the years are short.” Am I right, mamas? There are moments that drag on forever: the fever at midnight, the week of teething, the tantrums in public. And there are moments that pass so quickly you aren’t sure if they even happened: the look on her face when Daddy comes home, an unsolicited hug out of nowhere, a cuddle on the bed with the entire family—these moments seem to come too fast. A day is rarely 24 hours, and I have seen my girls grow a lifetime between birthdays.


So I get it: don’t sweat stuff because it’s only going to change. And, as the ancient philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Moments and their corresponding seasons can be fleeting, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, and the only constant is change. Just when you figure out the best way to get everyone out of the house and into the car, something will change and you’ll be back at square one. Winter to spring to summer to fall and back to winter again.

And yet, I think it is important to mark the passage of time: the accomplishments, the triumphs, the missteps, the moments of learning. I think as humans we feel a drive toward progress, in one form or another, and whether it’s minutes ticking by 60 seconds at a time or a growing collection of children’s art on the wall, it can be comforting to have indications that we are moving forward, building on something. Early on, we measure with inches, pounds and ounces, days and months. Later we use years, grades, and ranks. Linear movement, or the illusion of such, allows us to feel like we are not just floating around, bumping into things. It’s why the ancients invented the calendar in the first place: they were feeling crazy and wanted to check off days until their favorite television shows started their new seasons. And they kept forgetting each other’s birthdays. But that’s not the truly important stuff, is it?

As parents, it’s often like we are all moving on different timelines. It begins the second we hold our child, or maybe earlier. Each parental journey is different, although there is obviously some overlap. Different origins, different influences, different obstacles are further complicated by the fact that every child is different, has his/her own sleep schedule, and develops at his/her own pace in his/her own way, and it’s almost a miracle that we can sync up long enough to share a cup of coffee. So, it should not be a surprise that, once we begin our new lives as parents, life is nothing like what we thought it would be, or at least not exactly what we imagined. Because how could we have known? No one else had any idea what we were in for, not even the people who were already parents.

But I digress. Again. Back to seasons. There have to be hundreds of ways to measure a year as a parent, and many don’t involve a calendar. (And now comes the part where I completely steal one of musical theater’s great numbers, reinterpret it, and use it to help better understand the human condition. Because, hey, isn’t that what art is for?) And so, not with how much time has passed, or how many inches grown, but in love gathered, shared, and perhaps lost, parenthood can be measured in seasons of love. Right now I am in the season of love when my youngest doesn’t quite sleep all the way through the night—stilland I am spending this season rather tired but also melting with love when my child finds comfort in me, in my arms, and nuzzles into my neck with her tiny nose and drifts back to sleep. That is my season of love for now. And, as the seasons inevitably do, it will change into a new season, and I will try to find the love in that one too.

How do you measure a year in the life as a parent?

[With my sincerest apologies to Jonathon Larson and anyone involved in the production of RENT anywhere, and to anyone who has ever even seen the show or who has ever seen any musical theater ever. My heart is true, but my lyrics are questionable…]

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments to share

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

How do you measure, measure a year?


In diapers, in spit-up?

In hours of lost sleep?

In fevers and rashes, both serious and mild?

With first foods, and first steps

And first words and first new mom friends?

How do you measure, a year with a child?


How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love


Seasons of love (love)

Seasons of love (love)


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred Goldfish

Five hundred twenty-five thousand ouchies to kiss

Five hundred twenty-five thousand hours of screentime?!

How do you measure what you never want to miss?


In tantrums at Target?

In “nos” and in “whys” (and “why nots”)?

In “hate yous” and “love yous”

And the parenting hacks you try?


In “night-nights” and “sweet dreams”?

In books they just have to hear?

In little sweet kisses

Gentle snores in your ear?


Five hundred twenty-five thousand loads of clean laundry

Five hundred twenty-five thousand dishes washed and dried

Five hundred twenty-five thousand trips to the potty

How do you measure a parent’s deep sigh?


In field trips, in carpools?

In drop offs and time-outs?

In school plays, in game days?

In quieting the shouts?


It’s time now, to treasure

These moments are soon past

Like spring into summer

Next seasons start too fast


Remember the love

Remember the love

Remember the love

Measure in love

Seasons of love

Seasons of love

Jess was born in Florida but also lived in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and, finally, in Los Angeles, before moving to San Antonio. She was in the last semester of a graduate program in English Literature when she found out she was pregnant with her first daughter. (Which means, gentle reader, she finished her studies with neither coffee nor wine! Be amazed!) Jess and her husband, a San Antonio native, have since welcomed their second daughter. In her previous lives, Jessica has been a college professor, an actor, and a restaurant manager. She is currently enjoying turning her obsession with taking pictures of her own children into a modest photography venture. You can check out some of her work at Mewborne Photography.