Reflecting on nearly seven years of parenting three children, I realize much of that time I’ve wanted to ‘fast forward,’ ‘rewind’ or ‘pause’ their lives. I never simply press ‘play’ on parenthood.
Many parents, especially in the early years, find themselves wishing they could ‘fast forward’ for life to be better, easier, or more enjoyable.
I remember wishing away the newborn days until my babies would sleep through the night. Looking forward to more freedom when I finished breastfeeding. Planning for how we’d spend our days when we were no longer structuring them around nap schedules. Considering how much easier it would be when my children were more independent, able to walk, talk, or dress themselves. Imagining how exciting school, camp, and extracurricular activities would be for all of us.
But those things came along. And when they did, I suddenly found myself wishing I could ‘rewind’ because I missed when they were smaller and relied on me more.
I could cuddle them in my lap. I missed the baby fat as they grew and slimmed down. I revisited all of their ‘firsts.’ I longed for the days when I could get a break during naptime. I scrolled through old photos and videos and wondered where the time went. “Take me back,” I pleaded.
I think the most heartbreaking of all is the desire to ‘pause.’ Every tender moment reminds me that each age and phase is fleeting.
I want to freeze where we are today. I don’t want my children to get bigger. I don’t want them to need me any less than this very moment. I’m not ready to move on – to transition out of the crib, potty train my last baby, retire car seats, and give up strollers. I get pleasure from what they’re learning right now – to ride bicycles, read, write, swim.
At this very moment, we are in the ultimate ‘pause’ in many aspects of our lives due to COVID-19. As a family, we are spending more time together than ever, and I feel I am more present than I’ve been before. The pandemic is a daily reminder of how precious and short life truly is.
Still, it’s not constructive to live my life in a constant state of wanting something I can’t have – wishing to skip forward, go back, or just freeze.
So how can we press ‘play’ on parenthood?
I believe recognition, focus, and mindfulness are essential to pressing ‘play’ on parenthood.
I can appreciate the past and feel excitement for the future without dwelling on either.
I can recognize special moments happening today, savor them, and move on.
Traditions and rituals are a great way to reflect on and mark moments in our lives.