When I became a mother, I received lots of advice and guidance from other moms. While it was impossible to apply everything I learned, it was always comforting to know people were happy to share their experiences in order to make my transition to parenthood easier.
There is one thing that a few people said that really stuck with me back then, and continues to stay with me now:
“The days are long but the years fly by.”
That certainly feels like the case in my own life. From losing my first baby tooth in Mrs. Dolan’s first grade classroom to walking across the stage at graduate commencement, all the years in between feel like a blur. Of course there are countless memories that fall in between, but the pace seems almost unreal.
As challenging as it may be to do, I try to live by the notion that the years do fly by. My three-year-old daughter often asks me to paint with her. I used to be quick to say, “I will in a few minutes; I just have to make a quick call,” or, “Why don’t you paint something and surprise me?” Now, as I spend nearly just as much time putting her recently outgrown clothing into the “donate” bin as I do washing and drying them, I can certainly see what those moms meant.
Sometimes this means that I have to stop what I am doing to be with her. Sometimes this means I don’t finish a task for work until the next morning. Sometimes this means I need to get off social media and put my phone away.
But every time, after I am with her, it feels totally worth it.
She asks me to sit with her while she falls asleep at night—and I do. One day not too far off, I am sure she will have a sign on her door barring me from entering, so there seems to be no reason to decline now. Some mornings she asks me to watch Dora the Explorer with her before I bring her to school. Does this mean I will be a few minutes late to the office? Yes, but I watch along anyway.
As spring has (mostly) sprung, she has taken a liking to watching the birds. She does this through her bedroom window—which has a view of two birdhouses—or out on our front step.
“Mommy, how many birds are there?”
“It sounds like lots of birds. Should we count them?”
And then we do, each trying to spy as many feathered friends as we can. I love how excited she gets when she points one out that I didn’t see.
Yet as the seasons do, this spring will come and go. Then she may ask me to build sandcastles at the beach or to play in the sprinkler this summer. There will always be something on my to-do list waiting to be checked off—always. I have to remember as tempting as it is to pass in order to be productive, there will be one day when she’s off to the beach with her friends instead of me.
So grab a paintbrush. Sit next to the bed. Watch the cartoon. Build the sandcastles.