If you've been reading my blog for a while, you are probably familiar with a couple sayings that my Granny always told me, "Don't wish your life away," and "These are the best days of your life." Often those phrases came at me at the same time, and always when I was wishing to be older.
I wish I were 16 so I could drive already.
Don't wish your life away. These are the best days of your life.
I wish I were finished with high school.
I know it doesn't seem like it now, but these are the best days of your life.
I can't wait until I'm older and have my own house and my own job.
Don't wish your life away. Life only speeds up as we get older.
And I'm sure there were many more discussions like these throughout my life. At the time I couldn't understand why Granny always thought high school was the best days of my life. Then I got to college and it was filled with such awesomeness and excitement and I felt like Granny had lied to me. Clearly college days were better days than high school days. But then I experienced heart break, loss of loved ones, even the loss of part of myself and my identity (college days are good at that). And then I understood why Granny had said high school days were the best days of your life. In high school I didn't experience loss and sadness like I did in college. One of those losses being the loss of Granny. Maybe Granny had been right all along and high school was the best time of my life. But then what? Did that mean that the rest of my life was never going to be as good as my life in high school?
I mulled these thoughts over in my head time and time again, never being able to fully understand what Granny meant. But anytime I found myself wishing for something in the future... I would stop, remind myself not to wish my life away, I would be thankful for the moment, and be present in the now.
I wish we could stop renting and buy a house.
Enjoy this time, you'll never get it back.
I wish we had children.
These are the best days of your life.
I wish we could build our dream house.
Don't wish what you have now away.
And then, like a cloud had been lifted in my brain, like the piece of the puzzle was finally turned the right way, I started to understand what she meant.
This business of raising tiny humans is hard. It's exhausting. It's enough to break a person sometimes. It can be easy to see Julius playing with a toy, McCrae stealing said toy, Julius grabbing it back and hitting McCrae, McCrae screeching (NOT a pleasant sound) and hitting Julius back, all while Luke is hungry and needs to be fed but there aren't any clean bottles and the high chair is still dirty from the last feeding, all of the pillows from the couches are in the floor after I've picked them up 1,935,622 times, toys are everywhere, our bed isn't made, the kids' rooms are a mess, laundry is backed up, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and re-loaded, and just think to myself... I wish the kids were older and could pick up more, or take care of themselves, or go play independently in their own rooms, or [insert anything else but drive this momma crazy and destroy her house here].
It's easy to think that. To wish that things were different and that the kids were a little older, a little more independent, a little more responsible. But that would be wishing my life away. Wishing their lives away. And worse, wishing my time with them away. I remember when Julius came to us as a little butterball of a baby with only two bottom teeth and I would rock him at night for the first month or so to help establish our bond. I remember getting up in the night with McCrae, desperate for sleep, but still enjoying his quiet breathing as he drank his bottle, and the way he fit so easily into my lap. I remember getting up with Luke, every 3 hours when we first got him (he had to be on a feeding schedule because he was a preemie), exhausted, but happy to spend a few quiet moments with him, singing to him while he drank his bottle, and feeling his teeny tiny hands curl around my finger tips.
Those times are gone. And sometimes... I wish I had them back.
It's easy to wish my children were older, but it would be hard to give up this time with them. This time with Julius who just wants to play, talk your ear off, and delight you with his ways of entertainment. This time with McCrae who wants to hold your hand, sit on your lap, and both annoy and play with his older brother. This time with Luke who still needs a bottle and doesn't mind being held, who loves being bounced, touched, talked to, and thinks his hands are the funniest things ever.
This time is precious. Exhausting, but absolutely precious. You don't get this time back. And as I was looking around at the mess and the chaos and the dirty dishes and the toys everywhere and this house overflowing with love and laughter and joy and food and excitement, I realized what Granny meant. Granny didn't mean that high school was the best time of my life. She didn't mean that everything after high school was never going to be as good as high school. She meant that these days are the best days. Right now. The now days. She wanted me to be present in the moment, be thankful for whatever I had right now because when it's gone, it's gone. You can't go back. You have to love everything about right now and milk every ounce of good and happiness out of it. Cherish everything. The now days are the best days.
And to help remind me (and Joey) of this, I wrote on the dry-erase board on our refrigerator,
"Be thankful for the mess and the noise.
One day our home will be too clean and too quiet
and our hearts will yearn for these days."
So hang in there fellow Momma, or Daddy, parenting is hard. It's exhausting. But it's worth it. And when you catch yourself wishing your kids could crawl/walk/talk/fix breakfast/sleep in/whatever it is you want them to do, just remember that the now days really are the best days.