I cannot remember what annoying trick my son had picked up, but his acting out in the nursery one day led to the one of the best pieces of parenting advice I have ever received. My friend (who has successfully raised four boys) told me that the phases of young children come two weeks at a time. I started watching, and I found her counsel to be 100% true. Each phase lasted around 14 days, give or take a few per trend. This perspective totally changed my outlook on caring for our son. Has Baby picked up an annoying new trick? Give it two weeks, she will move on to a new one. Has Baby picked up the most heart-warming trick? Savor it extra, because it is not likely to last long. I am continually shocked at how much this time frame inspires hope to make it a few more days.
The work of parenting can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. In the early days of my son’s mobility it seemed like just as I caught up and could handle the new routine, he was on to something else, and there I was trying to play catch-up and keep our house intact. Some of those phases were wonderful. There was a time when my husband would ask our son “You know what, bud? I love you.” Our son then caught on to the game and walked around saying, “You know what, Mom? I love you” on repeat. Those were some of the most precious moments I could have ever imagined sharing with my son and I was bummed when it ran out its course.
It always seems as if the good days go so fast but the days in the trenches stretch on for an eternity. Marking my mental calendar and knowing there would be a shift brought about hope on the long days and nights of raising my son. Every stranger in the world tells you to savor every moment (it literally happened to me again yesterday in the grocery store parking lot), but sometimes just thinking about savoring today’s challenges can bring me to tears. However, when I know this, too, shall pass, it can help me to focus on the great thing my son did today, like rolling over for the first time, taking his first steps, saying his first sentence and more. Great things are happening even during the days riddled with temper tantrums, but if all I can see in the meantime is the struggle, it is so easy to despair.
Another friend once told me she strives to truly enjoy all of the stages of her children. She had several years of motherhood and she was doing the mommy thing every single day (with three kids!), so I knew if Becky could do it, I could at least put forth an effort to enjoy my days of parenting in the young years. Perspective definitely helps in this area. I want to soak in the wonder of watching my son explore and discover the world around him, but if my eyes are just focused on the misery of this day I am going to miss out.
Today my son picked up a leaf as we left the post office parking lot. He has absolutely loved watching the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. We took him to visit a zoo that was new to us recently and the highlights of the trip for my little man were the leaves he collected and stuck in the stroller as we traipsed through the exhibits. I could have chosen to focus on the admission cost (when we could have collected leaves at home for a lot less money), the time we spent trying to do something new and fun (when he just wanted to look at leaves) or taken time to enjoy his wonder. We talked about the colors we saw, we tapped into our nature hiking days when my husband and I worked at a camp, and we saw the joy in his precious eyes. A different perspective helped us enjoy our family day.
Enjoying parenthood is not always an easy task. Sometimes I find myself wishing away specific days and challenges instead of focusing on the good. The old saying goes “the nights are long, but the days are short,” so I want to enjoy the days, and I hope you do too. Start watching your two weeks go by and focus on the hope of the next phase when the days are toughest. You can survive these crazy years and love being a parent.