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A couple of weeks ago, I went skiing with my kids. Sounds glamorous, right? The pictures of that day on social media would lead you to believe I lead an incredibly perfect life, but the reality is much of the day was spent dealing with lost mittens, the 8-year-old crying because it was so windy, and me yelling at the children to pay attention so they didn’t run over other skiers or hit the cars with their skis as they whined and trudged through the parking lot.

When we arrived back at the car, the kids begging for snacks before we even had our ski boots off, I sighed. It was a good day, sure, but I was exhausted and frustrated, and trying not to lose my temper on them yet again. And it seems as though I am always exhausted and frustrated and trying not to lose my temper on them yet again. They don’t pay attention. They spill everything. They whine. They leave doors wide open. They beg for a show or video game time or snacks constantly. They disrespect me. They don’t appreciate all of the hard work I do to make cool things happen because they don’t think it’s cool. And I lose it. And then I berate myself for yelling at my kids again because a good mom wouldn’t be such a demanding control freak.

But this day, the mountain air had rejuvenated my soul enough to have the patience to say, “I know you’re hungry, boys. Let’s get all of our ski gear packed up, and I’ll get you some snacks.” And as we drove down the mountain, Macklemore’s song “Good Old Days” came on, and Kesha sang out, “I wish somebody would have told me, babe/Someday, these will be the good old days.”

And I thought, “Yeah. I know. I know they are. Look at those sweet, sleepy kids in the backseat.” I drove, listened to the lyrics, and had flashbacks of their precious chubby hands holding mine, their round faces lighting up during a game of peekaboo, and their big baby belly laughs at fart noises.

Because all of a sudden, the baby is five. He’s not a baby, not a toddler, technically still a preschooler, but as I looked at him in the backseat that day, I realized he’s an actual kid. Like a kid-kid. And we’re smack-dab in the middle of the good old days. In fact, I’ve already missed a bunch of the good old days while I was busy being bitter about the poop I was wiping up.

And the thing is, someone did tell me someday these will be the good old days. Because when I became a parent, and I was struggling through the sleepless nights, the weight-gain, the sore breasts, and the bodily fluid-covered ensembles that made up my entire wardrobe, the old ladies in the grocery store came out of the woodwork to tell me to “Enjoy every minute because it goes by so fast!” While I smiled to their faces and mumbled obscenities at them under my breath.

Of course I couldn’t understand how precious the days of little kids are when I’m dragging three about-to-vomit children under age six through the grocery store to get Popsicles and children’s ibuprofen, because every minute isn’t enjoyable. Many aren’t enjoyable at all, in fact.

But on this day, after skiing with the boys, Kesha kicked me into back into memories of watching my husband grieve. You see, when my father-in-law died a few years ago, my husband would come home from work and every day for months, just watch hours and hours of home videos of his dad in the good old days. When his dad wasn’t sick, when he played catch with him in the backyard, when they went boating and to amusement parks, when they unwrapped Christmas presents.

And I am sure my sweet father-in-law didn’t realize when he was out of a job and his wife bought a bunch of used garage sale toys for Christmas presents that those were the videos his son would watch over and over and over again, longing for the good old days.

Now I’m not big on living life backwards. I don’t like the idea of surviving on memories or staying stuck in the past, but it is certainly worth realizing as my kids grow up that these days are the ones we’ll reminisce and laugh about when they come home for Christmas as adults. These are the good old days, and while it’s impossible to enjoy every minute, it gives me a little more patience with their spills and forgetfulness when I remind myself to participate in the memories my children are making every day.

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Emily Donehoo

Emily Donehoo is the lone female in a family of five, a former teacher, and an outdoor enthusiast. She's crazy about books, tacos, pizza, Jesus, and snuggles. You can read more of her writing on her blog.

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