Stop telling parents to “enjoy it because it goes so fast”

A lot of my friends and I are in the stage of our lives where we have young kids. Many of us have toddlers AND newborns. We are all living on caffeine and dreams (and dry shampoo). I see my friends post things on Facebook or Instagram about how hard a particular day or moment has been and I sympathize. Because oof; I’m right there with ya.

And then I see the comments. Sigh.

Why do parents with older children constantly tell those with young children to “enjoy it.” “They grow so fast.” “You’ll miss this.” “Just wait until…”

We know.

We see our toddlers and realize how quickly they went from baby to kid. We watch them hit milestone after milestone and see how fast time is escaping us. We are aware of how many days there are until they graduate high school (for my oldest it’s 5,641 as of this post).

But in the thick of struggle, we don’t need to hear “enjoy it.” “You’ll miss it.” What we need to hear is “How can I help?” “Do you need a hand?” “Can I watch the kids?”

I miss holding and rocking Henry to sleep; I don’t miss crying while doing it because he just wouldn’t go to sleep. I secretly miss sleeping next to him and waking up to his perfect little face; I don’t miss the three months I spent sleeping next to him on a futon mattress on his floor because he refused to sleep in his crib.

I know I’ll miss the funny things he does and says as a toddler; I don’t think I’ll miss the constant power struggle over every. single. thing. we ask.

I know I’ll miss Charlie being this tiny, perfect little bundle of amazing. But I’m not sure I’ll miss being unable to communicate with each other. I’ll miss holding and staring at him while he sleeps; I won’t miss the (seemingly) endless back pain brought on by his need to be held.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore each and every age and stage we’ve gone through, but that’s because I’m looking at the whole picture; if I look at individual pieces, there are some I’m glad we are past.

And so, Parent-of-older-children; I know you’re well-intentioned, but those comments aren’t helpful. Yes; they grow up so fast. The days are long, the years are short. We know. But because parents must have a selective memory, you don’t remember (or are choosing not to remember) how hard this stage is.

Right now, we just need a sympathetic ear. And maybe a ten minute break to drink the tea or coffee we’ve warmed up six times today because our kid is crying about socks.

Party of four

As we counted down the days until we became a family of four, I sat reflecting on this pregnancy and everything that had gone in to it.

This entire year seems like a whirlwind; Brett left a job to run his own agency full-time; five minutes later we discovered I was pregnant! Throw in a major house renovation and a toddler and it all adds up to a chaotic, messy nine months.

It’s been a (mostly) beautiful mess. During the last nine months I’ve watched my husband grow and support a business; something he’s wanted to do for a long time. I’ve watched my son grow and thrive in ways that catch me off guard and take my breath away. I’ve watched the relationship between him and his dad evolve, strengthen and deepen. It’s such a beautiful thing and I’m eternally grateful to witness it.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, because there were times when I thought I’d never get to see it.

We have been pretty open about our journey toward starting a family and the struggle we endured. Henry is our miracle; fearfully and wonderfully made. It took a long time and a lot of tears to get him here. What most people don’t know is that the journey to get his brother here has been equally as difficult.

After Henry was born, we knew pretty quickly we wanted to grow our family. And since we didn’t know if we would experience the same challenges, we started trying as soon as we could. And we gave it time, and no expectations. And were met with the same challenges. Month after month. It was hard to walk through the battle of infertility a second time.

But then, last July, after nearly a year of struggle, I had a positive pregnancy test! We were elated. We did the calculations and discovered that we’d be having a St. Patrick’s Day baby – how fun!

But, the pregnancy didn’t stick. I was home by myself with Henry. I called Brett at work, sobbing. I could barely get out a sentence. “I need you to come home.” I choked out. And he did. And we sat together and cried at our loss. Wondered if our house would be full of kids like we had imagined. I felt guilty for my sadness since we have Henry and he’s perfect.

It took nearly another half of a year, but eventually I received another positive test! I was ecstatic. And terrified. And anxious. I told Brett and we cried happy tears and worried together; every day. Until we heard his heart beat. It was beautiful and perfect. We cried more happy tears. We worried some more. Until the fetal scan that showed us how strong our son was growing. We cried more happy tears.

When March arrived, I told Brett “I think the timing of this pregnancy is not an accident. I think the universe knew that March was going to be a hard month for us, so while we fight through the grief of not holding a baby like we expected back in July, we have a new joy in this pregnancy to help us through that.”

And now, nearly two and a half years after Henry made us parents, we are finally a family of four!

I am so looking forward to watching Brett and Henry grow closer, and I’m equally excited to watch him bond with our new son. I can’t wait to see Henry as a big brother; I think he’s going to be amazing.

I sit in awe at the absolute miracle that life is. And while my path to creating it has been anything but smooth, I am so grateful for the opportunity and blessing. I hope I teach and show my sons that they are precious and loved. And I hope they understand that if I seem like I over-worry about them it’s because I made them from scratch and they are the best things I’ve ever created.

You’ll Never Remember

You’ll never remember the two and a half years you spent as an only child.

You’ll never remember life before your little brother; before you were promoted and given the title Big Brother.

You’ll never remember a time you didn’t have an upstairs bedroom and that your brother’s room was once yours.

You’ll never remember that two days before your brother was born I made us take this picture.

That this is the last picture we have of you as an only child; our last picture as a family of three.

You’ll never remember that I hugged you extra hard as you left for school the Friday before you became a big brother. That I sobbed as you walked out our front door saying “bye, Mommy.” for the last time as an only child.

You’ll never remember that you went to bed on a Saturday night as our only baby and that when you woke up on Sunday we weren’t there because your brother was being born.

But I will.

I’ll remember all of those things. I’ll remember the two and a half years where my time and energy weren’t divided; where my sole focus was you and your every need.

But, I’ll also remember the look on your face when you came to visit us at the hospital to meet your baby brother. How you beamed the best, most proud smile I’ve ever seen. How you immediately knew to be soft and gentle with your brother.

I’ll remember your sweet voice saying “hello” and “I love you.” And how you gave soft kisses on his head.

I’ll remember that you were very concerned about all the people looking at your brother and you instructed the nurse “don’t hurt my baby brudder.”

I’ll remember how excited you were when we came home with your brother and how you just wanted to sit next to him and hold his hand.

You’ll never remember any of that. But I will.

And I’ll get to witness every single day of you as a big brother.