Sunday, August 21, 2011

These are the best years of your life. Remember that.

Everybody with older kids or grown up kids says things like, "They grow so fast," and "Enjoy every minute, because time flies." I didn't necessarily agree with those sentiments (at least, regarding parenthood) until after Zoralee had turned one. Honestly, her first year totally crept by. Not that I didn't enjoy much of it, but there was so much adjustment, so much to learn, so little sleep, that it felt a lot longer than a single year. But her second year and now Ziah's first couple months are really starting to fly, and it's giving me that sobering sensation that this is it, this is life, this is my children's childhood, and I don't want to let it slip away uncherished.

For the past few days, Ziah has been drooling like crazy, fidgeting a lot during sleep, and sucking his fingers more. Barb (mom-in-law) suggested that though it's early, he could be teething. Well, tonight I felt his bottom gum line, and sure enough, there is the slightest hint of sharpness! What a slap to my sense of time! That was actually an impetus to blogging tonight and inspiration for the myriad other tasks I have in mind for improving our quality of life and getting down in writing, video collage, or what-have-you the things I want to say and remember.

"These are the best years of your life. Remember that." When Zoralee was six months old, I was holding her in my arms, and a kindly bearded gentleman looked me in the eye and said that. Ever since, I've given so much thought to that line. I understand the truth in what he said, and I try to revel in each day's light, but I also believe (without proof) that there is beauty to be encountered in nearly every season, and enlightenment about yourself and those you love, and closeness to God, and other things that would deem a year "best," even years without young children, even whole lives lived without young children. I want to think that we go from strength to strength, one best year to another best year, even when some of the best years are awful. Thing is, that man might've been right, and I won't know until it's nearly over, until I'm sitting there looking back on my life. And so, for now, I'm considering this one of the best years of my life, and I have two kids who do a pretty good job of reminding me how true that is.

"I refuse to read this book until someone turns it upright."

"Thank you. Now then, is that a simple silhouette
of a white bird on a black surface?! Genius!"


melissa said...


I also have ambiguous feelings about the whole 'best years of your life' thing. And the whole 'cherish it its gone so fast' thing. Like, no matter how much i cherish it they still grow up, what can I do? That always makes me feel like I'm making a mistake. Or somehow missing it. In fact, this contributed to some of my post partum anxiety: I didn't want to miss anything, so I didn't sleep. Well, that and I had to watch Riley sleep so he didn't die.

So glad that's over with.

Anyways, I agree that every season is wonderful. And we can experience a fullness of life in every season, if we choose. Sometimes though I wish the seasons could mix it up a bit. Like in the middle of winter, three days of summer would be awesome. In the middle of four simultaneous meltdowns and solo dinner preparation, three days of retirement engrossment in a book and morning lattes and leisurely conversations with my husband would be awesome.

God really needs to take note...
I have some awesome ideas, you know.

ms emili louann said...

I felt similarly with Elijah - his first year had me thinking, "Hey, I got this. I'm soakin' up every moment and it's all good!" It crept by, it felt rich and brimming with endless goodness.

But almost as soon as Jonah was born, there was this strange shift. Everything started whizzing by. My loyalties where "split". I would try to slow a particular moment down, and it still SHLOOOOPED! by. And in retrospect, especially, I feel that it ALL shlooooped by. Is it because there are two instead of one? Is it because one of them is into being cute and cuddly and totally dependent, and the other is throwing a tantrum (and in those moments you almost WISH time would go faster - talking of my own experience :)?

It all makes me a little teary...

"Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear?"

... But seriously? Where is the reverse gear!?

PS. Your pictures, as always, are beautiful :)

Shana said...

It's true, isn't it. We can't wait to grow up and graduate highschool. We can't wait to go to college. We can't wait to get married. We can't wait for the perfect job. We can't wait for "that" vacation. We can't wait to have our baby. We just can't wait for all of these things in our lives. I think back to saying and thinking these things so many times and then when they happen and are gone and you are an old lady married for 15 some hits you like BAM! There is no rush. Enjoy. Take it all in and ENJOY. It's hard to do and really what we should be doing is kind of like you said....look at today as "today is the absolute best day of my life". Take that stance....that attitude on life. Like this is the best year of your life.

Basically livin' life to its fullest and having your cup half full, not half empty, right?

Shana said...

Oh, and p.s. thanks for turning his stinkin' book over. I'd hate for the poor child to have a poor intellect because his MOTHER refused to show him his picture books right-side up!

Rena said...

I loved your post, and your friend’s responses. I'd have to agree with the sentiment that today is the best day of your life, whatever season you're in. And it's simply because you actually have today. Whatever experiences and opportunities other seasons brought, that time is gone now, and only the memories remain. (Or lack of them if you said "no thanks" to everything like I did too much.) And of course we aren't guaranteed tomorrow so that makes today pretty good. I realize that any individual day can be pretty lousy or even just humdrum and routine, but the realization that right now is all we’ve got gives a new perspective.

I wish I had learned that a lot sooner, like when I was raising my kids. I was too focused on what needed to be done, and on just getting through the difficult times, and I feel now like I didn’t store up enough memories, didn’t do enough fun stuff, didn’t enjoy just being together enough. I was always trying to get through whatever needed to be gotten through, looking ahead to some magic moment to come, like Shana expressed. Looking back, it really does seem like the days and years flew by (even if they were dragging at the time) and suddenly I’m in a whole new season of life, with the past opportunities gone. I can view those child-raising years as both the best years and the worst (or most challenging) years of my life, and there’s some truth to both.

I also feel like the season I’m in right now is the best time of life because I sort of get a “do over” with grandkids, without the demands and responsibilities of parenting. I can’t imagine that I’ll feel like it’s the best time of life when I’m 20 or 30 years older than I am now, but I’m beginning to believe that when I actually get there I WILL feel that way.

Each season of life has its challenges, and each has its blessings. I guess what I’m trying to express in response to what you wrote is to tell you “Yes, cherish these days, good and bad, because they ARE days of life that you’re given, and the time of life you’re in right now. Don’t wish them away, but don’t feel like when a new season comes the best will be over and done.” The bearded man told the truth, but not the whole truth.

Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

Damn, mom. That was a beautiful response to a beautiful post.

I love my mom and sister.

And niece.

And nephew.

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said...

Yes, Rena is so right...
the years have flown by for me too...I remember when each of my children was a baby... and now many of my kids are married and some have babies of their own now...I call it the "I blinked" syndrome.
Yes... cherish each moment...and don't sweat the small stuff....and give the big stuff to the Lord...well give it all to the Lord.
Thanks for the post.
P.S. the pictures of Z with her reflection made me think of Anne of Green Gables...and her "window friend" 8~)

Tamie said...

Damn, Lori, Rena, and Rachel. I'm jealous of the amazing-ness of your family.

And Lori, I have said it before and I will say it again, your photos are publishable. Not only could you make money, but others would really benefit from them. Gorgeous. Especially the ones of Z. at the window.

I printed out the last paragraph of your post and taped it to my kitchen cabinet.

lori said...

Mel - those are nice ideas. Breaks in the weather don't happen nearly enough. I think of the "chinook wind" we had occasionally during an Alaska winter - it was always so nice. Why don't we have something like that during stretches of emotional drought? Oh, we do - margaritas. ha ha ha.

Emili - You know, I concur with the loyalties being split thing. I mean, you don't love either of your kids any less, but there is a very real limit on a mother's time. I can't physically tend to one's wounds while putting the other to bed. Something has to give sometimes!

Shana - you actually hit on a little background fear of mine: that I won't do something right and I'll stunt their emotional or intellectual development. Maybe it's a sign of our times, because I highly doubt people from less competitive times thought that way. And I don't care for them to be better than anybody else - just healthy. But I can see that probably engaging them in my every day existence, with whatever chores I'm doing, etc. is as beneficial as anything intentional, at least at two months of age!

Mom - I think that what you wrote was so honest. I'm curious what types of things you said no to that you regret.

Rach - We love you, too. And Bennett. And Cam.

Nancy - So, you remember each of your kids' babyhood, certain parts anyway? That's awesome. I would've thought they'd kind of run together with that many! Did you find yourself being surprised by milestones again and again, or did it get to be pretty old hat?

Tamie - thank you! One day I shall seriously research it. You are encouraging.

Shana said...

Lori Lou-Let me tell you this....even be it from a distance I can tell you that I think you are a FABULOUS Mama and Jason a superb Pops (haha)! Adam and I were eating lunch yesterday and I was telling him about Zoralee's friends, etc. He asked me "how old is she now?". My immediate reply was 2 and 1/2 but then I said well....maybe 3 1/2...hmmmmm..I'll check I told him. Because she is so bright for her age, Lori! Amazingly so. I see children for the well-child exams everyday and that is why the minute he questioned her age I went right into "medical-book" mode and started to think about what she "should" be to be able to hold the kind of intellectual conversations she does and that is where I said, ummmm....maybe 3 1/2. But, she's not!

Is it because she stays home with a parent? Is it because she doesn't get plopped in front of the boob-tube a ton and is probably read to a lot and sings a lot? Is it some of the Montessori principles you use? Maybe it is just because her parents are rad! Whatever it just is. You've done a fabulous job with her and will with Ziah, too. I can only hope that I am blessed with the opportunity to try out my parenting skills and that when I do the kids turn out half as bright.

Oh~I made the same comment to Adam about Bennett after I watched the video of him hitting the little ball off of the T. Their gross motor skills are usually not that stellar at that young of an age. I can see that he is going to be bright, too. It is just so exciting for me to watch you guys doing such a wonderful job with your kids!!!


Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

Thanks, Shana!

He doesn't seem to be much into the whole talking thing yet, but on the physical aptitude front, the kid is rockin'.

lori said...

Shana - - you are such a gem. Well, I don't know what it is about Zoralee. She is definitely a special child, ludicrously alert. I don't know what brought it on. If it's anything about upbringing, maybe it's due to really listening to her from Day 1 and responding like she's a real human, not merely a little being who does cute things for our entertainment (although that definitely happens - heh heh) and not a background member of the family who should be "seen but not heard." I would also highly credit her relationship with extended family, who lovingly expand her horizons all the time just by virtue of their personalities and attentiveness too. ??

But your insight is really meaningful to me, Shana! Man, why can't you be our pediatrician? Could you do it by Skype, hmm?

lori said...

P.S. and maybe there is something in how I'm portraying her long distance. After all, I don't post the dull things she does and says! ;)