Enjoy them while they are small.

“Enjoy them while they are small”. You are a parent of young children. How often have you heard this?
Has it made you think guiltily “Oh my goodness, time is flying, I’d better begin enjoying them!”.

I confidently predict it has never had that effect on you.
As you struggle with young, unpredictable, whirlwinds, whose happy mood can last but a moment, the last thing you can do is “enjoy” them.

The people who give this advice are only speaking aloud.
They are really saying to themselves, “Where did the time go?”.
However for you time has stopped. Life is one never ending round of baby.

There are nappies, feeds, baths, crying fits, colic, other children and housework.
Occasional “moments” of snuggles and smiles are often lost in the mix of workload and exhaustion.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelingtribe/3013318395/">Jack Fussell</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
The independent woman you were prior to your children’s arrival is a distant memory.
Life is trying and oh so tiring.

Although being a mother is deeply satisfying, early days of mothering, in my opinion, are not normally “enjoyable” in the “fun” sense.
Yet here are all these mothers who have obviously traveled this road in the past, telling you it is.
What is wrong with them? Is it some sort of mothering amnesia?

I can remember a time when I wanted to explode when people told me that those days of mothering young children were”the best days of my life”. I would smile at them and nod, but inside I would think, “Did you go out last night?”, “Are you living a life outside the home?”, “How did you sleep last night”, “Did you enjoy your shower this morning?”.

As a mother I am now past those early days, those trying tiring days, where your children followed your every step, and a child was forever in your arms.
Now I live in a different world of mothering, where I spend time with my children, eating together, chatting and enjoying each others company. I get to go out when I want and I am usually up in the mornings for some time before my children surface.
I continue to be their mother, but now the mothering is different. This weekend my son did not come home from college and my eldest went away for the weekend. My big family was reduced by half. The house was quiet, and the dinners I cooked were ridiculously large for the small family they were meant to feed. I had time for me.

Yet I have been a mother for over twenty years. I have reared my own and other children. I have spent much of my life carrying little ones, listening to their play, and sitting them down to eat. I have read a million stories and enjoyed so many cuddles and hugs. For most of my life that is what I did. I was a Mother.photo credit: bananaana04 via photopin cc

Now that I have time to breathe I have time to reflect, and how I miss mothering those little ones. I do not forget how hard it was, but I realise now all that I missed at the time. That little smile, the hug, the giggle. The little finger wrapped around mine as I fed them as tiny babies. The screech of delight from the cot each morning when I walked into their bedroom. The little head resting on my shoulder, exhausted after a busy day, as I carried them to bed.

Now as I sit in my quiet house with my children all busy elsewhere I look back and agree those were good days, precious days, and I miss them.
To those of you struggling with your little ones I say hang in there. In time those little ones will be as tall as yourself. Your hands will be empty to do as you wish, and your bed will be yours once more. With time on your hands you will have time to reflect on all that is past, you will remember those precious hugs, kisses and tiny hands.

And I suspect you too will wish that you took time out and enjoyed them while they were small.

photo credit: bananaana04 via photopin cc
photo credit: Jack Fussell via photopin cc

44 thoughts on “Enjoy them while they are small.

  1. I hear it SO often Tric, and you know, I’m beginning to realise it as my smallest girl gains her independence now, approaching her first birthday. I don’t want to turn back the clock but i’m trying to smile as much as I can 🙂

    1. Don’t get me wrong, mothering older children is lovely but those tiny tots and all those precious moments, are wasted when you have them so often and sorely missed when they are over.
      Glad to hear you are doing your best to “enjoy” them. Reading your blog it is obvious you do.

  2. Tric, that is beautiful. And so true. We were just talking about that today, OH and I. Both of us saying we can’t wait till we can go out for a cup of coffee and actually drink the bloody thing without a child pulling out of us, or one of us pulling them off each other. How we won’t miss any of that stuff. I find I am really enjoying my 3 year old at the moment and it’s probably because I can. Also perhaps, deep down I know all of my babies are gone and I’m maybe trying to prolong his development. That really is a beautiful post.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. My youngest is now twelve and we love having her. She is growing up fast but since her birth, knowing we were finished with babies, we have appreciated so many “moments” with her.
      When our little ones are small it really does seem never ending, I just wanted to say it will end, so make memories now. Delighted you enjoyed it.

  3. Oh Tric, thank you so much for writing this, it is exactly what I needed to read right now! I am so worried in the chaos of our busy family that I am missing all the important stuff, that I’m too busy muddling through to really ‘enjoy them’. I’m glad I’m not alone and that I will look back and cherish this time. Wise words from a very wise lady xx

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I remember one day hearing a mother comment on after school activities. She said, “today is a beautiful day, I’m going to lie down in the garden beside my daughter and watch the clouds in the sky”.
      It made me think how fast the days go with routine and I need to stop and live today with my children.
      Now they are needing different things from me, which I am enjoying, but I miss carrying them. (can you believe that day will come!)

  4. I love your post 🙂 You get a second chance to enjoy when you become a grandparent. I’m so grateful that the Universe was kind enough to let me enjoy three of my grandchildren when they were babies and all four of them now. They are growing up fast and now I realize that I must treasure the times I am with them.

    1. Even though I don’t wish to be a grandparent for quite some time I agree it must be wonderful. To get to do it all again, I secretly can’t wait.

  5. Oh that was lovely. My twins are four now and I already miss when they were babies. Sometimes I wish they were two years old again. I had them all to myself and they needed me constantly. Nobody else could manage them. I can’t believe In September they start school!

  6. This reminded me of a friend who only wanted babies; she said you could put them some place and they’d be there when you came back to them. Yes… hers grew up too. 🙂

  7. Great post Tric, some very wise words! I try to enjoy every moment with L but at times the tiredness, attempt at work / life balance etc get in the way and they get lost. I still make sure to take time every night before I put him into his cot just to breathe and relax with him for a cuddle before starting all over again the next day! Even though he’s only 10 months, I already miss those newborn days.

    1. Even though it’s been twelve years I can still remember that smell of a small baby, “cooked” and ready for bed. Happy days, despite all the trials.

  8. Tric I was just the opposite! Or I should say my kids were just the opposite. The days of babyhood and toddlerhood were pure bliss for me. My babies were happy, pleasant and oh so very easy. My oldest slept through the night her first night home and there ever after. My second slept through the night within a week of coming home. The teenage years? It was payback for all of the joy I had with them as babies! 😉 Your post is beautiful.

    1. Thanks Colleen. I hope you share your comment with your”little ones”. Mine were not sleepers which was exhausting and one of them (my third but tell no one) was awake and generally unhappy for the first year of her life. I must say I have really enjoyed motherhood in all its different guises.

      1. My ‘little ones’ have little ones who did not sleep near as well. I felt guilty for them having slept so well as babies!!!! 🙂 Motherhood is fantastic. It’s something we can’t compare to anything else.

  9. Really beautiful! Reminds me why I took my career break – even when this new motherhood career is sometime busier than my office job. Worth every moment. Roll on another year!

    1. Lovely. I don’t think you will ever regret it. In years to come you will have survived financially but will also have so many memories to look back on and smile.

  10. Lovely post… Although I’m a but like Chatter Master above, I utterly love the baby phase (although mine never slept through the night!! And still don’t!!) maybe it’s because I’m not a whit concerned about the house being tidy or maybe because I don’t have any pressing things to do (school runs/work outside the home) or maybe I’m so engrossed in sniffing the sweet smell of babies that all else pales into the background, ha ha! (Having said that, ask me when they are all up coughing or something and I’ll be singing a different tune 😉 )

    1. Ah Mama Earth how come I’m not surprised at your comment. You couldn’t have as many little ones as you and not love what you do.
      I have no doubt you will have a wealth of memories stored up by the time your newest arrival is all grown up.
      Just hearing you mention “the sweet smell of babies” allows me to smell them and remember.

  11. my friend
    holding her three month baby
    while navigating
    her three year old
    being a mom is the toughest job
    in the world
    but the most fulfilling

  12. Oh, I love the idea of “mothering amnesia”! I absolutely am a victim of that affliction. I so miss having little ones around, now that my nest is truly empty. I look back on those days, and all I can recall are the soft kisses, the warm sleepy heads on my shoulder, the smell of freshly bathed and powdered babies. I completely forget the times when I’d call a friend or a sister, crying and saying “I can’t take it any more!” I forget about getting all dressed up for dinner out, at last, baby sitter in place, only to have the youngest throw up all over my new dress. I forget the asthma, the pneumonia, the trips to the emergency room, the food allergies, the sibling fights, the night terrors……
    So when I say to my young friends, “Enjoy them now!”, what I mean is, “Relax! In a dozen years, all you will remember is the good stuff.”
    So……enjoy them now!

    1. Ah yes I recognise a fellow amnesic sufferer. It was a wonderful time and thankfully I still have my crew around me. the funny thing is, as you say, I do remember the bad times, but not really.

  13. Well said. Having eleven-month-old twin, it’s hard not to keep wishing for them to get a bit older. For the next thing that might make life a bit easier. It really is hard to just be in, and enjoy, the present. This is a beautiful post.

    1. Whatever about having no time to enjoy them when they are small with one baby, twins must be a real challenge.
      Thank you and glad you enjoyed it. Hang in there.

  14. Wise words, as always, Tric. I was just thinking as I snuggled my Buddy to sleep tonight and watched him so comfy against my chest that he won’t be my baby much longer. And he could be the last one. And it made me pretty sad.
    So tonight, I think I heard you across the pond before I read your words……because I was soaking it in as much as I could tonight.

    1. Even when I read your posts and you are ranting (beautifully and brilliantly) I always get the impression that you are enjoying and appreciating your little ones.

  15. Beautifully said. We are just moving out of the baby stage, my youngest is 2 1/2. Things are starting to get easier and so much fun. Trying to embrace it as much as I can.

    1. Oh that is a magic age. You have such fun ahead of you, and so many snuggles. Glad you are able to breathe and enjoy it.

  16. Such a fantastic post Tric, you’re a fountain of wisdom. I’ve been struggling as of late with all the crying and whinging we’ve been having here and have found myself wishing bedtime on faster than it could come. I then feel terrible in the morning when I get a big cuddle and an “awww” of my boy. Parenting is so hard, we sometimes need to take a deep breath and reflect of what’s important. My boy is only 14 months old and I already wonder where my little baby went.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Fiona. I remember when I would put my gang to bed that if they shouted “Mom” when I got downstairs I nearly exploded. It was like “thats it I’ve done enough now go to sleep”.
      Hope the whinging dies down. Sometimes it is because they know we are off form and it puts them off too!

  17. This post makes me so nostalgic. I was very lucky with my eldest daughter, she was an easy baby – well apart from the 3 hour feeds 🙂 And I deliberately space my children out so that I would have more time for each one, so that helped too, I think. But maybe I do have amnesia…

    1. Thanks. When I read of your days away with your grandchildren and the times you spend with them I know there is more to come.

  18. Gorgeous post,Tric and just what I needed to read-am horribly sleep deprived and have a baby who will not sleep during the day,and hates to be anywhere but up in the arms and I’m so tired and keep waiting for it to “get easier” but I know part of me will be heartbroken when the day comes where they don’t need me as much.

    1. Oh Aedin I feel your pain. It is beyond tiring. I remember someone saying to me, “you can come to our swim training session at lunch time, it’s a great workout”. I looked at them at the time, did the maths and thought, “see you in seven years!”.
      But each day passed, and eventually it got easier and fun.
      Best wishes to you all. xxx

  19. I am getting to relive some of those precious moments by taking care of two grandsons. Unfortunately, I don’t have near as much energy as I did when my own were little. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter and agree that it’s easy when you are “in the moment” to take for granted what special moments they are. As a grandmother to 15 though, I can honestly say whether it be as a parent of little ones or a grandparent of little ones – there are good days, and there are not so good days, and sometimes there are even downright BAD days!! LOL

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