The days are long, but the years are short.
If you are the parent of a young child, you’ve probably heard this phrase more times than you can count. This warning is often shared by parents who have survived the years of sleepless nights, diaper changes and temper tantrums. They know all too well how fast baby days turn into childhood years.
As a parent in the thick of the toddler years, these days haven’t always felt precious to me. Parenting a son whose personality is so different than mine can be challenging. Like most moms, I’m constantly searching for the best way to elicit cooperation without crushing his spirit. It’s rewarding to be his mom, but it’s also draining. For many years, the days have felt so long.
But now that my son is four, the years are beginning to feel shorter. I’m suddenly realizing that these developmental years that have meant so much to me will soon be a small piece of my son’s bigger story. I want to remember the little moments that made up these years, but I also long for my son to remember the precious memories of this first period of his life.
For my son
I hope you remember the feeling of being snuggled between Dad and myself on the couch
I hope you remember the joy of our family walks and local adventures
I hope you remember the excitement of greeting dad and me at the end of the day
I hope you remember Dad’s silly games whose rules only the two of you seem to know
I hope you remember your daycare friends who are like your second family
I hope you remember your big dream to ride on the back of a garbage truck
I hope you remember our bedtime ritual – the stories, the kisses, the good night exchanges
I hope you remember the characters and storylines you created while playing cars
I hope you remember your promise to cook for me when “you are done getting bigger”
I want to remember the vision of my son’s little face in the window as he waves at me
I want to remember the sound of his voice singing along with the radio
I want to remember the feeling of his small hand in mine
I want to remember his genuine, unprompted compliments
I want to remember his little boy humor – the jokes, the silly voices, the fart talk
I want to remember the smell of his hair after a bath
I want to remember his love of wrestling and the desire to get the “bad guy”
I want to remember the look on his face as he shared stories about his day
I want to remember the feeling of his arms hugging my neck and lips kissing my cheek
Memories that last
Most of all, I want us both to remember the overarching love that covered the toddler years. On the days that felt too short, love reminded us of the joy of being a family. On the days that couldn’t end soon enough, love reminded us that tomorrow would be better. And when my son is taller, stronger and technologically smarter than me, I hope he remembers the days he first experienced his Mother’s unconditional love.