June has been a big month around my house. My middle daughter graduated from high school, and we are in the midst of preparing for her graduation party. Part of this preparation was to print out pictures of her over the years. Needless to say, this was a project I embraced whole heartedly, printing off over 200 photos. As I looked at all the pictures of my precious girl, I enjoyed watching how she has grown and changed over the years. I also spent time remembering what she was like in each of these different stages. The old adage, “the days are long, but the years are short”, has never felt so true!
I know, I know. You've heard this before but when you are in the trenches with your baby or toddler or preschooler you might feel like this stage will never end. But I am here to tell you it will. And more importantly you will miss things from each stage.
My sweet baby was not a fan of being fed with a bottle. She took a bottle only one time and then flat out refused to eat from a bottle ever again. As a stay-at-home mom this wasn’t the end of the world, but it did make getting time to myself or help with nighttime feeding difficult. There were days when I felt like all I did was nurse her. Then the day came when she was weaned, and I no longer got time to snuggle her close numerous times a day when she was hungry. I had to try to sneak in those snuggles and it was hard to do with my now busy toddler.
I even miss the preschool years when this sweet, little girl felt all her emotions in a big way. And when say a big way, I mean in a BIG WAY! We used to joke, and she was like a two headed monster. She was either the sweetest, most loving kid or she was not. There was no middle ground. When she got upset, she got UPSET! And I will be honest, it took me longer than I care to admit to manage my reactions to her big emotions and help her regulate herself. Even though this stage was hard, and I felt like she would never grow out of it she did. Those big emotional responses happened less and less as she learned to regulate her emotions. It’s hard to believe I even miss this stage.
When I first started teaching in ECFE, I always described my middle daughter as the kid who marched to the beat of her own drum. It was during her elementary school years where she sported her own style, refusing to brush her hair and instead just donning a hat. She wore what she liked, and it better not be a dress or have sparkles on it! She was determined and once she set her mind to something she would pursue that with a dogged determination. This determination was how I ended up with a hockey player and not just any hockey player but a goalie! While she still is her own person who sports her own style and loves wearing hats, I miss those elementary years when she was still a little girl who wanted to be tucked in at night and hear her special song from her dad.
This month, I watched this amazing kid walk across the stage and pick up her diploma. And while I was brimming with pride and celebrating her accomplishments, I was also sad because I know that this is the end of another stage. Soon I will be moving her to the Pacific Northwest for her next big adventure, college. My promise to myself is to cherish every moment big and small throughout this summer because I know that I will miss so many things when she is off at college in the fall.
Whether you’re just starting your parenting journey or in the throughs of toddlerhood or have a threenager on your hands or have moved onto having big kids, remember “the days are long, but the years are short.” Enjoy each new stage and all that comes with it, both the challenges and joys. Don’t wish it away, even the hard parts because you will miss things, things you never thought you would miss. So, pause and enjoy the stage you are in, even the hard parts.