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Cherish the Moments


They grow up so fast.

Blink and their childhood is gone, the well-wishers said as I held my youngest child, freshly born and wide-eyed with wonder.

Cherish every moment, they said.


Cherish.

Every.

Moment.

That’s what they said all those years ago.


To that I say: No. Absolutely not.

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I refuse to cherish the hours of my life spent hovering over a washing machine, dumping pissed soaked, paint stained, snot-sleeved clothes in. I will not miss fishing oversized building blocks out of the toilet.


There is no part of me that will lament the loss of the opportunity to wipe noses turned faucets or detangle and degrease peanut butter-smeared pony tails. I will miss when they don’t need me to help as much.


The independence I’m working so hard to teach them is a double-edged sword. I’ll miss when I’m less of a teacher and more of a guide. When the hands on lessons and repairing of mistakes distill themselves into pieces of advice and bits of wisdom. I’ll feel the gap when they are out and on their own. I’ll miss filling that gap once they’ve learned how to person.


 
 

I will not be grateful for the chance to crawl into a dryer fishing out static-charged dinosaur pajamas and trying in vain to get the glitter that fell of an Elsa dress off the dryer drum. I will not miss breaking up intensely loud fights over air and convincing an underdeveloped mind that punching little boys in the crotch is, in fact, not the way to win kickball. I’ll miss when a glittery Elsa dress doesn’t light up her eyes with instant joy. I’ll miss when he doesn’t roar at me with his whole chest because he donned those dinosaur PJs. I will miss when disputes are simple and easily resolved with a hug and a squeeze and a kiss on the boo boo.


I am sure I will long for the days when the biggest fight to be fought is over bowl colors and pant lengths. Because I know one day those disputes will shift to the harder to define and scarier to confront things like sex and love, happiness and contentment.


There is no part of me that will miss cramming my hulk hand into impossibly tiny sleeve holes to turn them right side out. No one can convince me that running off criminally dangerous amounts of sleep, gingerly placing cabbage leaves on tender, engorged tits, and living in a near-constant state of anxiety because you dared to need to void your bowels while the children were conscious is worth cherishing.


It’s just…not.


I’m willingly to accept that when all of my kids are adult-sized, I might look back with a certain amount of fondness on those impossibly tiny outfits I hated righting and folding and tucking into impossibly tiny dresser drawers. I’ll look at my “children” and see only grown-ups that simply haven’t had the time to learn what I’ve learned.


Because it does sneak up on you. One day you're handing your son a toy razor so he can shave just like daddy, the next he's got a patch of fur on his chin that is his pride and joy. One day you're holding your little girl's chubby little hands and she takes her first steps on wobbly legs and the next you're cheering her on as she crosses the finish line of the State Cross Country Championships.


I’ll always be their mom and I’ll miss when I was Momma. Because that title will fade right alongside my annoyance at the hundred thousand tiny chores inherent in turning tiny people into functioning adults. I’ll miss when they aren’t this little. But I’ll celebrate that too.


I’m not just surviving a childhood. I’m raising good people. That’s the whole schtick, right? Parenthood. We aren’t just raising children. Children turn into adults and it is our job, as their parents, to make sure they end up happy, healthy, stable, adults. The type who contribute to society, who know how to be good friends, who understand what it is to be cherished so they can cherish those special people who come into their lives. Essentially, we are parenting ourselves out of a job and I'm looking forward to unemployment, all things considered.


I won’t cherish every moment.

I’ll cherish the moments worth cherishing.

I’ll certainly cherish leaving behind the hard stages, and icky tasks, and finicky parts of meeting my children’s needs.

I’ll celebrate my kids learning new things and need me less. I won’t try to keep them small forever. I’ll try to find the joy in shuttering the mom taxi service and will gleefully hang up my hat as the family washerwoman. I’ll cherish my children and celebrate that growing up, needing me less - that’s the whole point.


That’s the gig.

Yes, it goes by fast.

Yes, I’ll miss it.

But if I miss it that means I did it.

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