It’s super easy to rush growing up on our kids today. Between a myriad of products geared towards helping baby reach the next milestone to social media pressures for our kids to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ to starting formal education as early as age two we definitely live a society eager for children to ‘grow the heck up’. Why?
I’ll be honest, like any self-respecting first time mother I was anxious and obsessed with my little guy hitting milestones on time or early. I had that milestone chart memorized. Burned into my retinas. In a weird way I felt like his achievements were a reflection on my parenting abilities. I mean, come on. He was an infant! His ability to sit up unassisted ‘on time’ had nothing to do with my ability as his mama. But there we were, living in that world. Live and learn, right?!
Then baby #2 came along and everything changed. In. An. Instant. Suddenly my little baby boy wasn’t a baby anymore. He looked huge compared to his newborn sister. And I couldn’t grasp how his first two years flew by so quickly and why I cared so much about what he did and when. He was basically an adult compared to my three week old! It was then that I realized they will crawl when THEY are ready, they will walk when THEY are ready, they will use the potty when THEY are ready. Who am I to rush them along?(I’m not saying not to be aware of milestone timelines. I think there’s a happy medium here between hurrying them along and knowing what the red flags are for when to talk to your doc. Definitely be aware, but not hypersensitive either.)
My son didn’t walk until his first birthday. Both of my children started walking at 17 months. The first time around, it really did bother me but on my second go ’round I came to a place of cherishing each stage they are in and not rushing them into the next one. Because once that stage is gone, it’s gone for good. (cue mama tears)
Did you know we have 18 summers with our kiddos before they leave our nest? And how about 10 Halloween’s to take them trick-or-treating before we’re not as cool as their friends? Then there’s Christmas. How many years do you really have between when they grasp the magical concept of Santa and when they begin to question his existence? Probably about five or six if we were to be completely honest with ourselves. Let those numbers sink in for a hot minute.
I think that innocence is something to be cherished, not rushed. They will all grow up and mature and get to where they are going eventually. So if my little guy still wants me to snuggle him while he falls asleep then a snuggle you shall have, bud! And if my daughter wants to be carried through the zoo, when she can totally sprint through the place, then I’m strapping on the carrier and carrying away! Because one day, in the not so distant future, I will put her down and not pick her back up.
I think the ‘let them be little’ concept was really solidified for me when we entered the toddler/preschooler stage of life. When they could interact with me and I got a glimpse into how their sweet little minds make sense of the world. I know we can’t keep our kids from ever experiencing hurt or their eyes from ever seeing something inappropriate or difficult to understand, but I want to help them stay as little as they can for as long as they will. Which is really just an eye blink in the grand scheme of their lives.
So when you see me carrying my extra tall toddler on my hip or offering my lap as a safe place to land for my upset preschooler or if you see us slowly wandering into preschool because a caterpillar crossed our path, it’s because I need to let them be little. While they actually still are.