The other day I was behind a young mom in line at the grocery store. Her baby was screaming – the kind of ear-piercing cry that could only mean that it was way past feeding time. Her toddler was sitting in the cart tossing anything within reach on the floor and her oldest daughter was begging for a candy bar.
I leaned over and picked up a bag of Goldfish that had been hurled from the cart and handed it back to the young mom. She thanked me and apologized for the chaos that surrounded her. I smiled at her and told her it was okay because we have all been there. I watched her struggle with the cart and her three young children as she walked out of the door . . . the baby’s cries still echoing throughout the store.
That sweet, young Mama.
I know her days are long and hard. I know she has no time for herself. I know she is overwhelmed with the constant demands of little ones. I know some days she feels like a terrible mother because she yelled at the kids, the baby is crying, the dishes are overflowing in the sink, the laundry is piled high and there are Legos all over the floor.
I could see her tired eyes, her unwashed hair thrown into a pony tail and the spit-up stains on her shirt. I could see her embarrassment and frustration as she quickly left the store.
Motherhood . . . it can be so terribly difficult. We have ALL been that poor, sweet Momma at the grocery store. We have all had moments where we feel like we are failing. Moments where we hide in the closet and break down in tears. Moments where we feel alone and sad and overwhelmed with the constant needs of our children.
But what we don’t realize at the time . . . when we are in the trenches of motherhood, when we are barely surviving, when we crave alone time . . . is that these moments are fleeting. Those days are long, but they are temporary. What you don’t realize is that while you are struggling to get through each day, your babies are busy growing up.
What you don’t realize is these very moments that drive you to the brink of insanity are the same moments that you are going to miss one day. What you don’t realize is while you are so busy rocking babies and changing diapers and calming temper tantrums and driving kids to baseball practice and cleaning the house and doing the laundry and grocery shopping . . . the years are flying by.
And one day, Young Mama, when you stop to catch your breath, you look up and realize that those sweet babies of yours are all grown up. They are driving and dating and and getting their 1st job. They are getting ready to graduate from high school and go to college. They are getting ready to head out into the world . . .
And your heart breaks just a little because you know that life will never, ever be the same once that happens.
And all of a sudden, you realize that the carefree days of childhood are over. Done. Gone. There will never again be field trips or award ceremonies. Baseball games or lost homework. Bike rides or sleepovers. Car lines or park visits. Late night snuggles or running through sprinklers on hot, summer days. Your chest tightens and that lump forms in your throat and you fight to hold back the tears because you aren’t ready for it to all be over. Everyone told you the years would go by quickly, but when you were knee deep in diapers and sleepless nights you didn’t understand how that could possibly happen.
But it did . . .
And you understand now why everyone tells you to enjoy every moment . . . because these moments . . . they don’t last forever. And you will miss them more than you know.
So, sweet, Young Mama . . . hold on tight to this time in your life. Leave the dirty dishes and go smell the flowers and have a dance party and count the stars. Savor those small hands in yours. Breathe in those sweet baby smells and the feel of those arms wrapped tightly around your neck. Bottle up those giggles and etch those gummy smiles into your heart. Cherish those sweet voices calling out for you and the weight of their little bodies sleeping in your arms.
Because one day, I promise . . . you’re gonna miss it.
This article originally appeared on Heather’s Facebook page, Love, Faith, & Chaos.