They say you never get this time back and I wish that wasn’t true. When I look through old pictures, my heart feels almost broken. I wish I could jump into that photo just for a second and hug that little body again.

My son is three inches shy of my height, but once upon a time he was a dream in my heart; once upon a time he was a baby on my hip. Once upon a time, he was toddling around our coffee table making us gasp whenever we thought he might trip and fall on a corner.

They say to enjoy every moment and I didn’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t enjoy every moment, but I loved the season.

I can picture him now, holding onto my hand and carrying his tiny backpack full of Hot Wheels and spare change. It didn’t feel fast then. It felt like the days dragged into a thousand years and every day was a vortex of sleep deprivation and my own unmet needs. I just needed a break. I just needed a minute by myself to recover. I needed a stroll down a few aisles at Target or a drive alone blasting music that made me feel like I was out clubbing instead of driving a mom-mobile covered in Goldfish and petrified French fries.

I didn’t enjoy every moment, but I loved the season. I enjoyed being a mom of babies and toddlers. I enjoyed taking my little crew to the coffee shop and to the playground to play. I couldn’t wait for bedtime and I almost always felt guilty for not “playing” with them enough. I looked forward to that glass of wine like it was my only glimmer of hope on a long, grueling day. I complained when my husband got home from work, and nearly cried while I told him how overwhelmed I was. I fantasized about a kidless trip to Costa Rica and what I would do for just a night alone in a fancy hotel (actually any hotel would do).

I definitely didn’t enjoy every moment, but I loved the season.

I enjoyed the moments that surprised me with their preciousness.

They were almost never planned; in fact, they came when I least expected. I’d be watching them play together and suddenly be overwhelmed with gratitude and love. I’d be reading books to them while they snuggled on my lap with their footie pajamas stretched out in front of them, and joy would wash over me like a warm wave. I didn’t enjoy every moment, but I was living my dream. The dream was hard and exhausting and it made me cry all the time . . . but it was my dream.

And now, just like that, my oldest is almost my height. He gives me a hard time about some burgers I made that tasted like a salt lick. He wears deodorant and his friends smell like they bathed in a half-bottle of cologne. We play competitive games that I don’t try to let him win (but he still wins anyway). I no longer worry about if he will sleep for his nap (pleasefortheloveofGod), or how to parent through his toddler tantrums. I no longer worry about weaning and the five cases of mastitis I gave myself (a little overeager, I think).

Now I worry about him sticking with good friends and being a leader, not a follower. Now I worry about him staying kind and keeping his soft heart intact. Now I hope and pray we will always be close and that he won’t ever stop coming over and putting his arm around me (even if it’s just to ask when we’re eating).

I don’t enjoy every moment. Sometimes when they’re all bickering, I just wish for 48 hours to run away and be by myself . . . but nonetheless, I’m enjoying this season with my whole heart.

Last night, he stood next to me in the kitchen and told me a story about his day. While he was talking, I had one of those moments. I had one of those moments of overwhelming gratitude for these precious days.

I don’t enjoy every moment, but I love the season.

I wouldn’t trade these days for anything.

Photo by Marianne Wiest.

This article originally appeared on Wonderoak

 

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Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is a writer and mom of four kids. She is an avid coffee drinker, risk taker, and TMI sharer. She is a firm believer in keeping it real and believes our imperfections bring us together. She writes at https://wonderoak.com/. You can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.