Another summer vacation comes to a close, and in a few short days, my son Kevin begins a brand new school year. He’ll be starting fifth grade this September, his last year in elementary school. As all parents often do, I find myself wondering where the all the time went.
Must They Grow Up So Fast?
- “It feels like just yesterday when they [insert important childhood milestone here].”
- “They grow up too fast.”
- “You blink and they’re all grown up.”
When it comes to our children, the adages aren’t clichés—they’re cold hard facts. We find ourselves wanting to freeze time so we can hold onto our kids in all their cuteness forever.
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, and she was lamenting about this same thing… how her two-year-old was at such a great stage, and how she wants him to stay this age forever. I remember those feelings myself.
I would break out Kevin’s baby album often, cooing at the little infant in the photos, recalling the wonder of being a brand new mom. It really was (forgive the cliché) a magical time for me.
But here’s another adage about kids that’s a cold, hard truth:
Kids notice everything.
The Kevin You Are TODAY Is My Favorite.
I’ll never forget it. Kevin must have been three years old or so. He was playing with his toys in the living room while I pored through his baby album. I was staring nostalgically at one of his newborn photos, when I felt a tug on my sleeve. I found Kevin looking up at me with tears in his big brown eyes, and he said woefully, “Mommy, I want to be back a baby. I want to be back a baby so you’ll love me again.”
Yes, even then with his toddler-speak Kevin had a flare for the dramatic. But come on, how heartbreaking was that? I pulled him up onto my lap and explained to him that no matter how much I loved him yesterday, it’s not as much as I love him today.
“But baby Kevin was your favorite!” he whimpered.
“No,” I replied. “The Kevin you are TODAY is my favorite.”
That day, Kevin taught me one of the biggest lessons of motherhood: to make every stage your child is currently at your favorite stage. And not because tomorrow that stage will be a long-gone memory either. (That’s what pictures and videos are for.) Love them up where they’re at NOW because they need it NOW.
I’m not saying that we love our children less because they grow up or become more challenging. Or that we should never get teary eyed and we remember our when they truly were our “little ones”. The trick is making our children feel that we love them more now than ever.
Even When They’re Fourteen?!?
And I only pick on fourteen because I remember myself at fourteen. I was a moody, contrary, boundary-pushing fourteen-year-old. There’s a good chance that Kevin will get angsty and difficult too. Maybe even worse than I was (EEK!). Will I be able to make him feel like he’s my favorite version of himself then?
That’s the plan, man.
I know more challenging, less cute times are coming ’round the bend, but I’m also certain that’s when he’ll need to feel my love the most.
At three or 14 or 25 or 38, I will say to my son, “The Kevin you are TODAY is my favorite.”
Currently there are lots of women in my life who have just had babies, are expecting, or have decided that now’s the time to start their families. They’ll get plenty of advice from everyone warning them to cherish every precious moment with their little ones because time goes by all too quickly. And they’re right. It does go quickly.
But, if we are lucky, we have today, full of possibilities and opportunities. Cherish it now for what it is now. If you want, take a butt load of pictures so you can reminisce later. Whatever you do, make your child feel that the person they are TODAY is your favorite. Tomorrow, and every day.
by Pamela Layug Laney