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Collecting Moments Watching Our Toddlers Grow Into Teens

These moments become us

I have forgotten so many things. Beautiful moments have been wiped away like the ocean swallows the words written in the sand. They were once there, carved in, and now they’re not. 

Moments that I held so dear as they were occurring - rocking my baby to sleep on no particular Wednesday at all, belly laughing with my boys about something totally nonsensical, a midnight hug from a child who missed me - I’m sure these things happened along the way but I can’t grasp them anymore. 

They are no longer accessible to me - lost forever. I have retained many happy memories with my kids, but of the millions of moments I’ve had with them over the 15 years I’ve been a mother, so, so many of them have been long forgotten. And yet each and every day, I set out to collect more, knowing that time will eventually take them, because moments are really all we have.

When you have teenagers, the fact that all moments are fleeting yet crucial becomes crystal clear. No longer in the haze of sleep deprivation or exhausted from chasing small ones around, there’s time - almost too much time - to ponder this marvelous thing called parenthood. In the throes of diaper changes and nighttime wakings, I swore that 18 years would last an eternity. One day could drag on for weeks back then. 

Rocking, singing, playing. 

Bathing, brushing, praying. 

Holding, hugging, swaying. 

Cooking, feeding, laying. 

It went on and on until I nearly fell over from tiredness, and then I’d look at the clock only to see 5 PM. They told me “the days are long but the years are short,” and I’d scoff. Now, a quick and long decade later, I’m reflecting on those words. 

Eighteen years may yet last an eternity, but I know that 15 certainly hasn’t. It’s flown by, and yet it’s also been long enough to see so many seasons, so many phases, so many changes. 

It’s strange to look at a face and see the toddler he once was and the man he is becoming and the person he is at this moment all simultaneously. 

It’s odd to look up at the boy that I rocked to sleep only moments ago to now stand on my tiptoes to kiss his cheek. 

It’s disorienting to see him in the driver’s seat instead of the car seat. 

Time keeps changing him and it keeps changing me, and that’s how it is supposed to be, but I am acutely aware now as I toss his clothes in the wash, that he’s nearly grown, and that drives me to pay even closer attention to the moments I’m collecting each day. 

I think, as parents, we so often get caught up in the routine, the mundane, the same ole same ole. We go through the motions but we don’t pay attention. We wait for extraordinary moments like milestones reached or a family trip and the little moments pass us by unnoticed and unappreciated, and I’m not faulting anyone for that. 

Life can be hard and parenting can be exhausting. I’ll not tell you to enjoy every moment. That’s a ridiculous goal. I never once enjoyed cleaning up vomit. I was never grateful for wiping pee off the toilet seat. However, I will remind you that beauty and joy live in the everyday, ordinary moments, and I hope to encourage you to open your eyes to those today. When you begin to look for the magic and the miracles, you open yourself up to receiving them. What would ordinarily have been missed comes into focus and blesses your day in unimaginable ways.

Bring awareness to your moments. Collect them. Store them away in your heart, in your journal, in your camera roll. Collect them even though most of them will eventually fade away and be forgotten, because each one leaves its mark, shaping us, changing us. Making us. And even when the mind can no longer recall it, it doesn’t matter because that moment has become you. You are ultimately all the moments you have collected. If there is any solace in knowing that my children will soon leave my nest, it’s that I know I carry them with me always, that I am made of the moments and love we have shared together.


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