I was so busy corralling my children down the grocery store aisle that I almost ran into the old woman in front of us. Four children under age five made us quite a spectacle in the big city where we lived. She smiled at us and patted my arm. “Treasure every moment, dear. Time passes so quickly.” I could only smile weakly and reply, “Starting when?”
If you have little ones at home every day seems like a hundred hours long. But around First Grade somebody hits a cosmic fast forward button and before you know it they are passing the sacrament and taking Driver’s Ed and you are standing there with a bewildered look whining, “I swear she was just starting preschool about five minutes ago.”
I imagine in another five minutes I will have children leaving for missions and getting married. Five minutes after that I will be a wrinkly grey Granny planning trips to see my grandbabies.
I am luckier than most, I suppose, because I waited a nice long time before I had babies five and six (Heavenly Father’s idea, not mine). I see how fast my older ones are growing and it makes me appreciate my two little preschoolers that much more. I don’t wish the days away like I did when it felt like my house was Babyville Central; when my house was full of crying voices (including mine) and all our days ran together punctuated only by church and storytime at the library.
I don’t know why we can’t just live in the moment and appreciate it for its beauty. Instead we compare and complain and wish it away. And then one day we realize how lovely and magical it all was. We want to tell people, anyone, that we should savor it; Savor the spit-up and the crayon on the walls and the bikes left out on the front lawn. Savor the youth and energy of our children, of ourselves. We want to tell people that it does go so fast and it is such a splendid, beautiful, messy gift.
So we stop a haggard young mother at the grocery store and tell her what we know. And hopefully, maybe just for a minute, she will understand. Maybe she will stop and look–really look–at her beautiful babies and love them in that moment.