There is a parable about a young person who asks an old person to tell her the one truth about life. The wise answer she receives is “This too shall pass.” It’s similar to the advice my mom gave me shortly after my first baby was born: “The only constant in child-raising is change.” It’s so true. As soon as I think I’ve got something figured out, it changes again, whether it’s nursing, sleep training, or potty training. But today I’m thinking beyond those mundane details and considering the bigger picture. My kids are growing up, and no matter how tightly I hold them while reveling in their collective awesomeness, nothing can change the fact that this stage, too, shall pass from my life and become just a memory.
“I wish I could slow down time and keep them where they’re at,” Jason said to me. His comment came right after the kids had been screaming and fighting in the back seat of the car for a half hour, so it surprised me a bit, but I know what he means. Despite the endless messes that the two of them make, and the fights they have, and the draining amount of work required to keep them fed, clothed, and entertained, having these two little boys is the most incredible and rewarding experience of my life. Never before have I loved with such intensity, such pure and unconditional passion.
My life has changed direction so many times, particularly over the past decade. Every year always brought something new – a year in Sardinia, graduating from high school, a move to Brazil, starting university, meeting Jason, a surprise baby, leaving Toronto for a small town, our wedding, university graduation, another baby, an unexpected writing career. The list of changes goes on and on, and yet each time I was in the midst of one of those adventures, it felt permanent. Now, as a stay-at-home mom, my life feels glued in the present, as if it will never inch forward at all because there are so many years ahead of me, just doing the same old thing. But I realize that’s just an illusion. Life never freezes in time, which probably is a good thing, because then the nasty bits can drift away behind us while we pursue the lovelier things.
But it already makes me nostalgic for the sake of my babies. Not in a million years did I think having kids would be this wonderful. They’re funnier than I expected, making me crack up every day with hilarious comments or goofy faces. They make me so proud that I can almost feel my buttons bursting. They fill me with a fierce feline defensiveness that springs out of nowhere. They wrench on my heartstrings with a single cry of “Mama!” They are baby miracles.
Growing up is a wonderful thing and so far each stage has been better than the last, so I can only hope it will continue in that vein. New ages will bring new joys and more freedoms, but I hope always to keep a bit of this precious time in my memory, when they’re one-and-a-half and almost four and so full of life, curiosity, emotion, and cuddles. I just need to squeeze every juicy drop of livable life from the hours of the day while reminding myself that, no matter what I do, this too shall pass, so love it now.