I saw this quote a while back but it has stuck with me. Stuck with me like a catchy song or a really good laugh. Throughout the daily tasks of motherhood, whenever I start to think “I can’t wait until I don’t have to do this anymore”….this quote comes back.
The funny thing is, I don’t mind the actual laundry. I love a hamper full of dirty clothes because it means we made some good memories in them. I love the smell of the clean laundry wafting through the house because it reminds me that I got a task done. I also love piles of folded laundry, even the ones I don’t ever put away, because it means that once again, I’m hopefully making memories instead of doing chores.
The things that are on my list of things that I’ll find myself missing when my kids are older are things like taking at least 45 minutes to force them to eat every bite of their dinner because one day I’ll be cooking for two. Or having to sing six to ten nighttime songs because one day I’ll be waiting up for them to come home and go to bed too tired to talk to me, and then after that they won’t even go to bed in my house. Or reading Dr Seuss and Jane Yolen until I can barely keep my eyes open, because I know sleep will come much sooner with their textbooks later on. Or picking up toys and moving rugs and replacing pillows, because all too soon my house will be all too clean…..and all too empty.
This is my top ten list of things I already know I’ll miss and I cherish every moment of them:
1. Mikey wanting to tell me his favorite color, power ranger, dinosaur, food, etc every five minutes because it changes that often.
2. Riley asking me to draw with him all day long and thinking I’m the best artist in the whole wide world.
3. Ty lighting up whenever he sees me like I’m the most important person in the world.
4. The boys copying everything their daddy does and knowing he’s who they want to be someday.
5. Mikey randomly complimenting me and meaning it. Today he loved my purple sandals. Yesterday it was my Rapunzel hair.
6. The joy I find every time Ty rolls over to get a toy, or pushes one inch to get closer to his brothers.
7. The fact that Mikey wants to get “bathtized” and Riley’s favorite animal is a “crocidikle”.
8. Finding papers all over the house with hearts on them from Mikey telling me he loves me.
9. The fact that they’d rather play with me than a video game. I’m hoping that one never changes.
10. How quick they are to forgive and how easily they forget that I’m not perfect.
Even today I found myself saying, “Things will be so different when all the kids are in school.” Then I realize that I blinked and Ty is six months old. You should see this little cherub. He is 19 pounds of smiles and seriously makes my life so much easier. It feels like yesterday I was in the hospital holding Mikey in my arms and falling into the love, doubts, joy, worry, pride and sacrifice that comes along with parenthood. Now that baby is all of four feet tall (just over one foot shorter than this momma) and has feet one set of toes smaller than mine.
I blinked and he was dancing to Coldplay.
I blinked and my boys are obsessed with Spiderman.
I blinked and I was way past outnumbered.
I don’t even want to think about what’s coming in the next blink. And the next.
I vow to cherish the laundry. To cherish the tantrums. And to keep my eyes wide open.
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
-Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author.