My daughter turned 4 years old this week.
For so many of you, that might seem like a blast from the past (a distant reality from the moody, prepubescent middle-schoolers in your living room, or the cherub-cheeked grandchildren your adult offspring have given). For others, it seems impossibly far away (as you snuggle with your warm, sweet smelling infant with visions of formula coupons and “burpie cloths” dancing in your head).
I remember sitting as a new mom on the playground, and watching other mothers struggle with their 3 and 4 year olds (throwing out cliche statements like “Because I said so!” and “I’m going to count to three!” on a far too frequent basis). I stared down at my complacent, innocent baby (likely “coo-ing” with picture perfect timing) and thought: ‘I will never have a child like that. I will raise my daughter to listen, be well behaved, and we’ll live our lives like one giant, happy Gilmore Girls montage with sardonic quips and freakishly attractive hair.’
Cut to four years later, and I can herald time outs, negotiate bites of vegetables and throw a screaming child over my shoulder and hightail it out of Wal-Mart as fast as you can say “temper tantrum.” It’s funny how as a naive, young mother, I honestly never realized that the late night feedings and the frequent diaper changes of a newborn, are often incomparable to the challenges of an independent, opinionated child.
Since I was a mom at a relatively young age, I thought it would be years before I said things like “I remember when you were this big” or “Wow, that makes me feel old”. Now I’m beginning to think it’s not age that makes people feel old, it’s parenthood. As Kinley loudly requests that we listen to Justin Bieber on the radio, I can cycle back to the years of torturing my own parents with Alice In Chains and The Sex Pistols mix-tapes (yes, before Pandora was ever invented). While she happily plays educational games in the car on my iPhone (with more efficiency than I ever could), I remember road trips from my childhood (listening to books-on-tape and being told to wear our seat-belts until we were “safely on the interstate”).
As a new mom, I used to hate how world-weary parents would shake their finger at my new baby and say “Remember this, because it goes by fast.” Yes, I know it “seems like yesterday” that your 40 year old was 2, but come on! I’m young. I’m hip. I have a steady supply of ginko biloba. I will remember every precious moment, every giggle, every poop, and every milestone like a pro.
Now on Kinley’s fourth birthday, I can’t believe how much time has passed, and how many things I wish I could remember forever. How long will it be before those wild, tangled curls become the flat ironed, blue-streaked coif of a 16 year old? How long before her eagerness to curl up with a bedtime story, will become an affinity for late night conversations with boys?
It doesn’t matter how old you are when you become a mother. There will come a time where you look back on your children, and realize that your memories have become a blur of mud stained shoes, and Snoopy band-aids, and exploding science projects..and somewhere along the line, you’ve become a “grown up”. You have become that stressed out, frizzy haired, “seems like yesterday” parent, but you know what? You won’t care. Because you’ll have taken part in every gloriously disgusting mess, in every mind-bogglingly impressive melt down, in every parenting tactic gone wrong…and you won’t want to have it any other way.
So whether they’re 4 years old, 4 days old or 40…
Remember this… because it goes by fast.
Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She talks about Mealtime Makeovers on Monday, workout concerns on Wednesday, and has a weekly column on Friday: “Getting Friendly With Makeover Momma.” If you would like to ask questions, submit concerns or simply chat: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.