A Time to Cherish

(Initially posted at Family News)

As long as I’ve had my own child in my arms I’ve been hearing some version of the line from adults my parents’ age (thankfully never from my parents):

“Enjoy it while it lasts, sweetie, it’ll be over before you know it.”Laying aside the fact that I was none of these people’s “sweetie,” the line always bugged me. I had several ready (rude?) responses:

  • If they stopped, well, wouldn’t that be worse?”
  • “Every stage has things you’re glad to get away from too.”

But mostly, I think with my girls the comment didn’t bother me as much as it annoyed me (someone telling me how to feel). I expected to have more kids. I would see this stage again up-close, and for now I was just living my version of “normal.” How many people want (or need) to be told how to be normal?

I have a friend I spoke with over the phone once when we both should have been starting dinner. We talked about being at home, and how glad we were to be our babies’ primary caregiver and the neat things we experience instead of missing. And alternated with that commiserations on the monotony of those days. I loved her summary:

“Every day is so different, and every day is exactly the same.”

Only a week into my third child’s life, I’ve already heard several versions of the line, and find they strike me with more poignancy now. We’ve talked about him being our last baby. It’s a very different feeling on several levels.

There’s relief, of course, the intensity of labor still near enough to be more than a blur in memory.

There’s a funny sort of math– Is this [insert purchase/product here] worth buying for only one baby? Before everything had a lower per-use cost because I knew it’d be used for more than one child. I don’t know that anymore.

And then there’s the line. This time will pass and will (perhaps) never come again.

How can there not be a measure of sorrow in that?

It seems I hear it from parents who (I have to wonder if they) feel guilt about not being present enough for their own children, and as a result feel compelled to warn every baby-holder they see.

I feel confident I am as “present” for my kids as I ought to be. I am not a person who gets the “guilties” very often. But even when someone’s got awful aim, odds are what they’re throwing will hit you if they throw often enough. I find myself trying to duck, because I feel the words bring unnecessary (inaccurate) feelings.

I try to imagine what the speakers mean when they use the line, and try to keep my own heart light. But I still find it muddles me sometimes.

Then I got an e-mail yesterday that managed to communicate the sweet transience of this time, without making me ache for what I can’t (and shouldn’t want to) hold on to.

“I’m thinking you will be pretty busy for the next few years but well worth the time and effort. This is a time you will cherish!

It encapsulated so well the way I actually feel about this time. It is a busy season, and I want to remember it (we try so hard to take lots of pictures!).

I am living it now as God strengthens me, day by day, and by his grace I will be able to look back on this as a sweet time, with wonderful memories, and still be thankful for the time I am in, without any regrets.

So now I have a new line, and it’s a reminder for me, even if it doesn’t have the same significance to anyone else.

These precious days with my new baby, my young toddler, my little girl (who wants so much–sometimes– to be a big girl) are days I will cherish years later; as much (maybe) for the grace that got me through them as for the young people that fill them.

3 thoughts on “A Time to Cherish

  1. Hey there…thanks for the link; I like this post! I agree that cherish is a great way to put it and I’m grateful that I, like you, feel that I can be as present with my baby as I need to be. And I love the line about each day being so the same and so different! People often ask me if its boring being at home. I’m always tempted to answer “Oh YES! and Oh NO!” all in one, but its hard to explain that.

    Anyway, I know this post is in the past but I wanted to comment on your comments anyway. I also posted them on my original post, but didn’t know if you’d go back to see, so here it is again. :)
    I’ll add too….I wasn’t certain that I’d be able to have a child…and so, not certain if I’ll be able to have another. That might add to my sense of loss when he moves from one stage to the next. But yes, absolutly, his growth is joy, not pain.

    Amy Jane – you are absolutely right – the grief would be if he wasn’t growing up, and I hope I made it clear that I realize that. I guess I’m just a nostalgic person about a lot of things…and I have really enjoyed his babyhood and am shocked at how fast it really goes. It is certain experiences I miss, and mourn lossing, but of course wouldn’t have it any other way. I told my husband that its like breaking my piggy bank to buy the bike I’ve been saving for; of course I want the bike far more than the pennies, but its kind of sad to break the bank even so (at least, for me). Thanks for the link to your post!

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