Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Best Years
Whenever we have a family outing that includes all four children, we get a lot of comments, especially from the elderly. One such time, we were eating lunch at a buffet restaurant, and an elderly gentleman came over and asked the ages of our children. We told him that the oldest was 4-1/2, then 3, then just over 1, then the new baby, who was 2 months at the time. He smiled and said, "Enjoy this age. It's the best time and it doesn't last very long."
On many occasions, when I hear something similar, I am usually in the midst of a moment of stress with the boys running wild and the baby crying, and I feel like it's all I can do not to run screaming down the street. This happened to be one of those days. Although they were well-behaved during lunch, it had been a hectic morning, and I was ready to call it quits. When this old man, whom I am sure meant well, said this, I just wanted to burst into tears, screaming, "You mean it gets WORSE than this???"
But at the same time, I fully understand and appreciate what the old man was talking about. They are only little and innocent like this for a few short years and we need to enjoy them. Enjoy the smiles, the kisses, the laughter, the pitter-patter of little feet running into the kitchen for breakfast, the sheer excitement of seeing a ladybug or being able to play with cars. As slowly as each day seems to pass for me, I also notice that time is flying by. My oldest will start kindergarten in a few months, and though I am looking forward to this transition, I can't help but feel that these fleeting free days of childhood will be behind him. Although his childhood isn't over, from August of this year on, he will be strapped with homework and a more structured schedule than these preschool and toddler years have given him.
And yet, as much as I am trying to cherish these tender moments, I also feel so guilty that I don't enjoy them more, that there are times when I want to hide under my pillow and cry because I don't want to face the day, that there are days when I wish I could rewind my life to the time before I had kids. Every time I feel like that, I also feel guilty for feeling like that. I know I need to enjoy them while they are young because it doesn't last very long, but sometimes (the potty training, the night waking, the constant fighting, etc.) I really just don't enjoy them.