He’s off on his next grand adventure. His car’s all packed and he’s loaded the directions on his phone. We all stand in the driveway and wave and call out, “I love you! Be careful! I love you!” as the car drives off, and we wipe the tears. The last 60 days went by so fast. The last four years went by so fast. The last 23 years went by so fast.
I know it’s suddenly super unpopular to say that time goes so fast, and it’s super duper unpopular to encourage anyone to cherish each moment. I’ve read the blogs about “that annoying woman at the grocery store who had the audacity to tell me to cherish these days!” (The nerve!) The author will usually spell out all the exhausting, menial, and repetitive elements in her day and accuse the well-wisher of being trite and unfeeling. But oh! People, people, people, listen to me: that the little old lady with cloudy blue eyes who stops the new mom in the grocery store to tell her how precious these days are and how time goes by so fast knows something. Her sentiment is not trite and no, she hasn’t forgotten those long days followed by sleepless nights. (Remember, she most likely used cloth diapers and didn’t have a Starbucks drive thru.) Maybe there is wisdom and depth behind her words. Maybe she knows exactly what she’s saying.
Time does go by so fast! So so very fast. Those long sleepless nights sitting in a dark room rocking a fussy baby are worth cherishing. Cleaning up an eleven-year-old’s throw up at four o’clock in the morning for the third time since midnight is not somehow separate from the beautiful days and moments of parenting. Those moments in the grocery store line when a toddler is testing every last fiber of a parent’s sanity count toward that sentiment that we should cherish every minute. Don’t throw those moments away just because they aren’t the picture perfect ones.
This is what that little old lady in the grocery store knows: you should cherish all of it. It’s true. Cherish all of it, even the difficult days and moments. Those difficult moments are the ones that allow that toddler to know that you love him enough to hold him through the temper tantrum even though other people are glaring daggers at you. After all, when we are behaving in a lovable way, it’s no surprise that people love us, right? He will understand in a way he can’t express that you are his safe place. When you hold the washcloth against his fevered head and kneel to clean the throw up from behind the headboard of the bed, he will know true love, and he’ll sleep another fevered hour in peace because you’re sitting at the end of the bed. You will remember and cherish that unglamorous moment with as much tenderness as the moment he walked across the stage to pick up a gleaming award he earned. Actually, you may find that you cherish it even more because it was moment in time that only you know, whereas the gleaming-award moment doesn’t belong just to you.
I remember a night about twelve years ago when we were living in Annapolis. The night had been a long one spent cleaning up after a sick eleven-year-old. It was late. It was gross. I was covered in disgustingness. I was exhausted. Everyone else was sound asleep. My back ached from the weight of seven months of pregnancy. I remember that night journaling that I wouldn’t have traded that spot on the cold tile floor or that moment in time with anyone. I am the mom. I am the one who cleans up the mess, and I am the comfort in the storm. Those things can’t be separated. I am the place where it’s safe to land. Not just when it’s a picture perfect moment, but always.
I’m going to be super duper unpopular and say it: Cherish the moments. All of them. Because time flies. Oh how it flies.
Godspeed my son. I love you. Be careful. Be wise. And I’m counting the days until I see you again. I know they will fly by …