The big thing I’ve learned about Parenthood is that when they say it all goes by too fast, they definitely aren’t kidding. While sometimes it seems like we’re always looking forward to and capturing the big milestones (first bite of food, first day of school, first date), those are really not the moments you remember. It’s those tiny, insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) moments that slowly blur together and etch themselves so deeply into your being you forget what it felt like before you loved someone this much.
Today a video came across my Timehop of my then 18-month-old daughter repeating the word “march!”. She had baby blonde curls and stomped her feet on the sidewalk with a chubby toddler belly poking out of a kitty cat tshirt. What looked like an ordinary, and yes, insignificant, moment came flooding into my memory so clearly. Watching it back I can remember the walk to the park that day and the pride I felt that she could walk the entire way by herself, that she could say the word “march”, and knew what it meant. I found it so amazing that she had picked up this new skill at daycare and it was something new she was telling me about herself. I cried that day…both with pride at how smart and wonderful she was, and also with sadness that someone else had taught her how to march and I hadn’t been there to see it. I can remember how important it all felt but it’s a memory I likely would have forgotten if I hadn’t seen that video. I’m certain there are a thousand more memories just like that which will slowly be forgotten and later cherished when I am randomly reminded.
Every day I try to commit my little girl to memory, capture every little bit of her essence that makes her who she is at this point of life, before she changes again. The fact that she always smells a little bit like syrup, baby lotion, and stinky feet. Or maybe how she cries in terror if she thinks I’ll make her eat mashed potatoes (*sigh*) or wear socks (hence the aforementioned feet smell). Tonight when I went up for the final goodnight kiss she unexpectly giggled and gave me nonstop kisses all over my face. When I said quietly, “oh those are the best kisses”, she stated seriously, “No Mommy. No. Those are the best kisses EVER.”. My heart skipped a beat. She has no idea how right she is and once again has grabbed my heart. How could I ever forget this moment or the countless others we have every day? What about when she confidently and adamantly asked for vanilla on her toast this morning, when I know she really meant Nutella. Then there’s the inexplicable response she has always given when I ask how it feels when her tummy hurts: “It feels like snow”. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more burning question than how a toddler from Texas came up with this description for nausea. These are the real interactions that make you a parent, and I panic at how many of these little details I have already let slip away.
I know it’s impossible to remember all these moments and I don’t want to spend them attached to my camera trying to. But oh to bottle this up! Parenthood is not “loving every minute” (oh the frustration of a threenager) but it does require living in the present to recognize these moments for what they are, the good and the bad, and soak them up before we’re on to the next phase. It’s getting frustrated at the potty training regression while at the same time cherishing that sweet little bum as she runs off to get clean clothes. It’s glancing at your watch when they ask for “just one more story” and then running back upstairs to snuggle after they’re asleep because you miss them so much. So today, I’m going to wipe the syrup off the counter, hold my nose at the feet smell, and agree sympathetically that, yes, it does feel like snow.