I see some posts around the internet where parents – usually moms – are mourning their babies “growing up too fast”. I get it. I’ve been there. When you’ve been in those beautiful stages of life with your baby, you just don’t want it to end. In a sense, it’s like when you go on vacation. You’re having a fantastic time with your family (one hopes, anyway) and then you have to go home and there is that let down feeling. “Sigh. Back to real life.”
When my daughter was an infant and we were approaching her first birthday, of course there was a ton of excitement! It’s such a big occasion. At the same time, deep inside my heart there was this little bit of fear. I LOVED the time we had spent together so far. I wanted more of it. I didn’t want it to end. I worried – what if that was the best stage of her childhood. What if no other stage would ever live up to that one?
But one day, I had a bit of an epiphany. Each and every stage we entered into was “my favourite”. Think about it. How exciting is it to see your baby’s first smile? Hear their first word? See them take their first step? Each one is a thrill, right? And although a tiny part of us knows that each one of those benchmarks is another step away from where they were before and perhaps to a degree, we recognize it as another step away from us, we still celebrate each and every one of those steps.
Going back to the vacation analogy, I started to equate my child’s development and growth the same way I can look at my trip through Europe. I started in England. I loved it and there was more I wanted to see there. I saw my favourite painting of all time by my favourite artist of all time while I was in England. But next up was Paris. I’ve always wanted to see Paris so I was anticipating just how amazing it was going to be. Paris didn’t disappoint (oh Notre Dame – I could have spent hours and hours there!0 and there was a tiny part of me that thought, hmmm do I really want to go to Krakow now? Maybe we should just stay in Paris longer and see more of it. But we already had plans to go to Krakow, so off we went. And while there, I had a moment of pure joy that I can’t even adequately put into words. It was one of the best moments in my life.
I’m so glad I didn’t miss any of those moments in Europe – even the time my daughter and I were stuck sitting in the rain before sunrise, waiting for the Metro station to open but that’s another story. And I’m so glad I haven’t missed any of the moments of my daughter’s life. Do I wish I could see her take her first steps one more time? That I could hear the first time she called me Mama again? The first time she smiled, the first time she laughed, the first time she…..well I could go on and on.
There is always a part of me, just as I am sure there is with most other people, that wants to relive moments that were special to me. But when I hear parents saying they wish they could freeze time so their kids couldn’t grow up any more beyond where they are now, all I can think is, oh but the moments you would miss. No matter what stage your child is in – mine is a married adult and for her, the next stage is likely motherhood – there are still treasured times to come.
If I had “frozen” my daughter as a baby, sure, she could be little and cuddly and I could put her on my lap and rock her, but then I would have missed her adorable tap and ballet dancing, her beautiful singing, the sweet artwork she would create or letters she would write me. I would have missed her university graduation, her wedding, and sometime in the not too distant future, I would have missed her having her own baby. I would have missed her compassion and generosity, her intelligence and maturity, her infectious sense of humor.
It’s natural and it’s okay to feel that twinge of sadness that you are moving past a point in your child’s life that was so happy but instead of continuing to mourn it, embrace it and celebrate it. Hold the moments that have already been, in your heart and smile at the memory. Then, smile even more knowing that more moments are yet to come.