Not about the finish line

When my Luke was first born, I cherished every coo, hiccup, and finger hold.  I cuddled him like it was the last time I would ever cuddle him.  I met his every need and couldn't help but be present and in the moment.  My baby boy needed me and I was there every minute, every second.

Somewhere along the way Luke started changing (like maybe the day we brought him home), it started slowly and then picked up speed as the days and weeks went on and it seemed like he was growing and changing everyday, maybe every hour.  One day he would need to be swaddled, the next day we were transitioning him out of the swaddle.  One day he was taking three naps, the next day he was only taking two.  One day he was nursing, the next day he wasn't.  One day he was an only child, the next day he was a big brother.  All of this change and these transitions happened in the course of two years.  If Google is correct and the average person lives to age 78.7, that is only 2% of his life.  That is reassuring and frustrating all at the same time.  Do you know how many diapers I changed in 2% of his life?

After what seemed like the hundredth transition we had completed with Luke, Lily came along and started along the inevitable path of growing and changing. But, this time around I started wishing and hoping for the transitions to come and go.  Did I really want to do the swaddle or was it just another transition we were going to go through?  Did I want to stop nursing sooner so we could just move on to the next phase?  Should we have another kid ASAP to keep the train rolling and get to our destination?

All of these questions entered my mind and, honestly, there were some moments when I wished some time away to get to the next stage, an easier stage.  When I think about it, that's how some of our brains work.  We are always looking ahead to the next thing, to the next weekend, to the next job, to the next house, to the next kid.  We are the generation of looking ahead.  I'm not saying that planning and preparation aren't not good things, but they definitely should not rule our day-to-day life of moments with our children.

Once I saw the reality of what I was doing to myself and Luke and Lily's childhood, I took a step back.  I told myself some truths that I try and consistently remind myself of when I am wishing for Luke to be potty trained or when I can't wait until Luke and Lily can play outside by themselves or when I just want them to eat their dinner without making the kitchen look like a war zone.  

Time doesn't stop for anyone.

Time is moving all the time.  It doesn't slow down when I want my baby girl to stay little or when I want to memorize the look on Luke's face when he rides his bike down the hill.  I can't stop it, but I can embrace everyday and the joy, hardships, and season of the time I'm in right now.  I can stop wishing for the next stage to come and enjoy the present.

They will grow up.

Someday, probably not too long from now, I will wish and pray for this time with my babies.  I will want Lily to throw a temper tantrum on the floor.  I will want Luke to ask me to hold him and 'cuddle me Mommy.'  I will dream and long for these days.  Sometimes, I literally look at my littles and believe that they will be like this forever.  But, they won't and that's good.  That means they are alive and strong and God is building them up to be world changers.  No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I need to remind myself to read that bedtime story, say those prayers, cuddle a little longer because they will grow up.

Embrace the present.

Sometimes it's easier to think about what life will be like when my littles can do this or do that.  I motivate myself in the present with the promise of the future.  As much as it sometimes works, the future isn't promised, at least not on this earth.  I want to be present with my babes and not looking ahead to what's next when things are hard.  I need to be there when they need me and be there when it's hard to be there.  I need to embrace the present and not be chasing after what comes next.

It's not about the finish line.

Anyone else get caught up in the checklists of what your child should be learning, saying, doing at each stage of their life?  Yea, me too.  These checklists are helpful and necessary to help us determine our child is physically, emotionally, and cognitively 'on track' and not needing intervention.  (Warning: I'm about to get on my soapbox.)  

But, BUT I think some of these checklists are missing the bigger picture.  Does it matter if my child doesn't speak exactly 50 words by age two?  I can confidently say it probably doesn't.  For some kids it might be an indicator of a bigger problem, but for most kids it's just something for parents to worry and lose sleep over.  When Luke was about 18 months, I had lots of people telling me they were concerned about his language  (he didn't talk much at all).  As a teacher, I was a bit concerned at first, but then I remembered back to my teaching days with all my sweet first graders.  Many of them would come in not being able to read, some not even knowing their ABCs.  By the end of the year, they had all made progress, significant progress.  All kids progress at different rates and I believe that's the beauty of humanity.  We are all different, unique, and beautiful in our own way.  We are not all going to know 50 words by age two.  Maybe by ten months, maybe by three years, maybe at eighteen months, but it won't be the same for all of us.  

I want to remember that it's not how fast I can check off skills and benchmarks on a checklist, it's about the journey and enjoying it and experiencing it with my two littles.  It's not about the finish line.

Luke has now probably lived 4% of his life while Lily has lived 2% of her life. As I write this, I hope and pray this is true and I have many more moments, days, and weeks with them.  But, I also want to remember the truth of this life and this motherhood thing...that they are only mine for a little while and I want to make every second count being their mom.  I want to be there for them now like I was for Luke when he was a tiny, pink newborn in my arms.  I want to embrace these days and not ever, ever wish this time away again.

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