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If There's A Secret To Capturing Childhood, Let Me Know

One young mom experiences a sea change as her constant wondering about tomorrow is replaced with a longing to keep her kids the way they are right now forever.

Like all new parents, I could stare for hours on end at my little miracle in the weeks after my daughter was born.  All the while, though, I was secretly thinking about another small miracle I never thought we would reach: sleeping through the night.  My obsessive wondering about when my children will reach various childhood milestones began five and a half years ago and hasn’t stopped since.

I know now that my kids won’t go to college with a pacifier, they eventually learned to feed themselves and, thankfully, they sleep on their own.  I still can only dream of the day when everyone in this house is potty trained, can appropriately dress themselves and we can sit through an entire meal together.   There are moments that seem impossibly far away and even though I know we’ll get there, the journey often times seems daunting.

In recent weeks, however, my thoughts have become less focused on when my kids will reach age appropriate turning points and more about how to preserve certain incredible aspects of their personalities.  (Please share the magic secret if you have it).

My five-year-old is a curious little sponge. She loves learning and can’t get enough.  I’m in awe of her literally assigning homework to herself (homework!) and working on her letters to near perfection.  She’s interested in almost everything and, if not for my own fear of overscheduling, she would gladly be enrolled in every activity from ballet to baseball.  My two-year-old enters a room with the kind of self-confidence I’m still looking to find in myself.  She calls everyone her age ‘her friends’ and is strangely polite for a toddler.

I’m not sure when this sea change happened—my constant wondering about tomorrow has been replaced with a longing to capture and keep forever who my kids are right now.  When my daughter waves at me enthusiastically from the school bus window, my spirit is lifted.  But as I look at the older kids, slumped in their seats, I can’t help but think this won’t be forever.

I want to bottle their enthusiasm, sincerity and inquisitiveness.  I know it’s probably impossible, but as they grow I don’t want them hardened by every day life, by disappointments that are sure to come and friendships that will let them down.

As someone who seems to always struggle with achieving ‘balance’ in life, I’m finding this all kind of tricky.  I’m elated when my kids learn and master something new (and if it’s something I taught them I feel like a rock star).  So often, though, I want to hit the pause button of life and be in the moment for a little longer.

Elizabeth Manaster October 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM
Lovely article. I highly recommend keeping a journal and jotting down, even quickly, some of those magical moments. I recently came across one of my journals from when my now 26-year old son was born and it was priceless! I always thought I would remember certain things, but of course I didn't. The memories came flooding back! Also, tape record those little voices - I wish I had done more of that!
Elizabeth Abrams October 12, 2011 at 12:50 PM
Thanks Elizabeth! Yes- I've been trying to write so much down-- even the funny little things they say throughout the course of the day. I'm trying to remember to record every day life-- not just the big moments. Thanks for reading!
Leslie Levine October 15, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Keep your Patch columns as a keepsake—for you and your daughters!

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