You know the popular quote, "Though the days seem long, the years go fast"...or something like that? Well, my friends that are parents of little, tiny people, there are no truer words.
Yes, when we are raising up small children and they need our attention for ALL THE SECONDS of ALL THE DAYS, we just don't ever feel like bedtime will EVER COME AGAIN. We begin to believe that maybe, just maybe, we will die of exhaustion before our children are grown adults. That we will suffer a long, slow, painful death from dealing with diaper blow-outs, sleepless nights, temper tantrums, "I do it myself" demands, and a never ending search for sippy cups and pacifiers. But rest assured, my friends, it will end.
The temper tantrums end, the blow outs end, before long they really CAN "do it themselves", and soon those sippy cups and pacifiers are a thing of the past. (The sleepless nights, however? They tend to come back sometime around your oldest child's 15th or 16th birthday...and from what my friends of grown-up children tell me, they stick around forever because a mama's worry never ends.)
Before you know it, your little temper tantruming toddler will be headed off to his second year of college. Your forever sweet and kind eldest daughter will start to get all teenagery on you. Yes, pretty soon, even your "littles" are older than a lot of people's "bigs"...but, they will still be your littles. Even when they are middle schoolers, or part of the "oldest" grade in elementary school, or when they are independent 2nd graders...they are still and will always be your "littles".
I am now that mom that gazes, with slightly misty eyes, at the young mom in Target that is struggling to keep her two year old in the cart while her newborn cries hungrily and I wish that I could really, truly go back, for just a moment, and appreciate when I was that young mom. When I was tired beyond exhaustion, when I wore a permanent spit-up stain on my shirts, when my babies fit in my lap, their whole body...perfectly in my lap. Now they are all legs and arms and creeping on me in height.
Oh, how I long to pick them up and have them snuggle their little heads onto my shoulder. Wrap their little arms halfway around my neck, because that is all the farther they will reach.
My baby girl is the balm for my aching heart...she still fits well enough in my lap. Her little hand still fits perfectly in mine. I am still the center of her world and I feel like I am grasping at straws because I know, all too soon, that she too will outgrow my lap. That someday, she won't want to hold my hand. And that there will be a day when I will not be her first choice. Her best person.
So for today, I hold close to that. I cherish every snuggle, every hand hold, every tender moment my older kids oblige me with and especially those times when they grasp my outreached hand and hold on, just like they did when they were little.
Moms and dads of wee ones, I know you're tired. I know you want to cry when your two year old is melting down for the 15th time of the day. I know you think you just. can't. wait. until you can wear fancy clothes again and sleep all night and leave the diaper bag behind...but trust me when I tell you to soak this in.
Every last exhausted moment.
Revel in it.
Because before YOU know it too, those babies will be big and your lap will be lonely.