“They grow up so fast! Enjoy them while they’re young!” Yeah, we know. We all know. It’s so true! And yet, I believe it’s time to stop saying this to moms of little ones…
I get it. Oh, how I get it. Once our kids grow up, have a mind of their own, start doing big things, can no longer crawl into our laps, and have problems much bigger than those which can be solved with a kiss on the forehead – we older moms find it easy to look back at the little years with longing. We look at pictures of our kids with their pudgy fingers, wearing the matching outfits we selected for them to wear – and we wonder where the years have gone.
We see that our grown-up kids are taking hard classes, going to prom, and graduating from college and we can’t believe how fast time went. So we look at the mom with babies in her arms and toddlers in her lap and we try to encourage her with, “Enjoy them while they’re young. They grow up so fast!”
Oh, it is true. They do grow up fast!
But today, as I find myself in a season that involves a double portion – that of marveling at my adult and teen children while taking on the task of raising a 5-year old Bonus Boy and fostering a precious 5-month old Boy Babe – I find myself realizing the full truth:
This is hard.
It’s good and it’s marvelous and it’s incredible, but it’s hard.
You can look at my precious new littles, then look up at me and say, “Oh Laura! They are so sweet! Enjoy them while they’re young!” and I will emphatically nod and tell you, “Oh yes! I am!!” I am enjoying our little ones an incredible deal – because of all of the sweetness and cuteness and fun! I am enjoying them so much!
But do you know what else I would enjoy right now?
Taking a shower.
Eating when I’m hungry.
Drinking my coffee while it is still hot.
Having a full conversation with my husband (that isn’t about the last time the baby pooped).
Not having to stop what I’m doing every three minutes to discipline and train our 5-year old to learn obedience.
Moms of Bigs, do you remember all that was involved in taking care of your little ones? Do you really remember? Oh, there is so much joy in the little years!! But there’s also a lot of poop and puke, tantrums and tattling – along with a never-ending list of work to do that you know you’ll never get around to because little ones require so much attention and care.
These are hard (and good) years, just as raising big kids is hard (and good).
What if older moms stop telling young moms to “enjoy them while they’re young,” and start saying this instead:
“How can I help you enjoy your little ones?”
Think about this.
Moms of Bigs – you no longer have to wipe bottoms, buckle seatbelts, have irrational conversations about broken cookies, or help all the shoes get onto all the right feet. You are, no doubt, in a season of challenge that involves running around like crazy with busy activity schedules, guiding your kids while they make weighty decisions, and then helping them with Geometry after 10:00 pm (Jesus, be near). This is all full of hardship and exhaustion – no doubt about it! But the truth is that even through these challenging days: YOU CAN ACTUALLY GO PEE WHENEVER YOU WANT.
I know this because just a year ago, I was there. With kids who were then 20, 18, 16, and 13 – I thought I was busy, because I absolutely was. Then God put babies on my doorstep and in my arms. Now I’ve got all those big kids plus a pre-schooler and an infant. It’s both fabulous and difficult, beautiful and challenging. I love what God is teaching me through this new gift and calling!
But – some of the days are hard to enjoy. “Enjoy them while they’re young!” I’m trying! But I am also tired.
Here’s what helps me get through these challenging days:
- When my friends bring over a batch of muffins or waffles for my family to grab and eat quickly for breakfast.
- When they come to hold the baby while I take a nap.
- When they grab the 5-year old for some special play time.
- When they give my big kids rides so I don’t have to load up little ones into car seats.
- When they grab the baby at my big kids’ soccer game so I can cheer with my arms free.
- When they drop off a lasagna for me to slide into the oven on a busy day.
- When they hug me and tell me that I’m doing a good job.
Stop simply telling moms of little ones to “enjoy them while they’re young.” That encouragement falls flat in the ears of a tired mama. AND, it makes them feel guilty for not enjoying the puke-filled, sleepless nights that are apparently – fleeting? Yeah, we’re sorry. Nothing feels fleeting at 3:00 am.
Instead, consider doing what you can do to help young moms enjoy these challenging years. Let your big kids help you with this. It’s a win-win!
What you should say to moms of little ones:
Don’t tell them to “enjoy them while they’re young!” Instead, do what you can to help them enjoy these years! Here are some better options every mom of littles actually wants to hear!
- Can I come take your kids to the park for an hour?
- I see what you’re doing, and you are rocking it! Good job, Mama!
- What night can I bring your family dinner this week?
- Your kids are so sweet – great work!
- I’d like to come watch your kids so you can have a date night. What night works for you?
- Can I stop by today and bring you a coffee?
- What size diapers is your baby in? I’ll grab you a package!
This is just a small list, and no doubt, God will fill in the gaps and put on your heart what YOU can do for your friends with little ones. But do consider how you can be a blessing to the weary mamas who are in the snot-filled, wet wipe, dirty-dish-piled trenches. Those days are hard, and those mamas need our real encouragement.
Then, guess what? Those moms really can enjoy them while they’re young! Because it takes a village, and moms with their big kids can be a part of that village!
Moms of big kids? You hang in there too. I know these days are fabulous and exhausting too – because I’m right there with you.
Whether your kids are big or little – or a beautiful mixture of both – we can stand together in encouragement. We can tell each other the truth – that God is carrying us through each day – that He is our provider – that He is with us constantly as we raise our kids.
Be encouraged, Mama! God is with you, and He is good! Because of this, we CAN enjoy every day with our kids.