“Don’t blink,” they say.

“It goes so fast,” they say.

And perhaps the favorite of exhausted moms everywhere, “One day you’ll miss this.”

And we force on a smile and nod because it’s not polite to scream at someone about how you surely won’t miss being constantly exhausted. You won’t complain that you certainly won’t miss not remembering the last time you took a shower. Not a quick rinse-off shower or a therapeutic cry in the shower, but a real shower where you stayed in the relaxing heat as long as you could stand it. You won’t miss all the things you should be doing every day. You especially won’t miss how you feel like—despite your best efforts—you’re constantly coming up short.

Later, we will look at our precious little babies and realize the truth: I won’t miss this, but I will miss you.

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I won’t miss the blowouts in your bouncy chair. Scrubbing the chair and praying it doesn’t stain. Changing your diaper and hoping you don’t stick a pudgy little hand into the mess. A rogue hair falling out of my messy bun and tickling my face as I absentmindedly swipe it away only to realize it was my hand that had been caught in the mess. Urgent baths—for the both of us—hoping to wash away the mess, and the moment.

But there is also a clean-smelling baby, warm and wrapped in a towel. Snuggles and soft kisses and the rubbing of baby lotion. A moment so enchanting it can almost make you forget about the mess.

I won’t miss the mess, but I will miss you.

I won’t miss the never-ending pile of laundry. Who knew one little person could go through so many clothes? Between blowouts and spit-ups and drool, you create a lot of laundry. And that’s just your clothes. I haven’t even started mine. My shirt still has leaked breastmilk on the front, spit-up down the back, and a mystery stain on the sleeve. It could be pureed carrots. Or it might be the result of them. But it must be washed.

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But there are also little onesies that I’ll have to pack away far too soon. Pajamas that hold that baby scent and take me back to special moments holding you close. Memories that seem to live in those tiny clothes. Memories that will be brought to life simply by pulling a long outgrown shirt out of a bin in the garage.

I won’t miss the laundry, but I will miss you.

I won’t miss being so exhausted my eyes hurt. Being confused and not remembering the words for things because my brain is using all of its energy just to function. Thinking a person can’t possibly survive on this much sleep. Or, more accurately, this little sleep.

But there are also 2 a.m. snuggles when the world is quiet and it’s just you and me and a rocking chair. Everyone else is asleep, but you lay at my breast and look up at me with eyes so filled with love and wonder that sleep seems unnecessary in that moment. I don’t need sleep, food, not even coffee. Just that face and that bond that no one can break.

I won’t miss being tired, but I will miss you.

Because the truth is, you seem to age a day in that blink. It does go fast. And when all that remains are the memories of the snuggles, impossibly small onesies, and an empty rocking chair, I’m sure it will feel like we miss everything.

But the truth will be, that we miss you.

Christine Koehring

Christine Koehring blogs at TheSaltyMamas.com with blogging partner and honorary co-parent, Jaymi. She has three small children and one very tall (and supportive) husband. Christine relies on coffee, the rare solo trip to Target, more coffee, and a LOT of humor to survive the crazy experiment that is parenting.