Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Savoring Each Stage

I read somewhere that parents are quick to celebrate "the firsts" but that "the lasts" are just as important and can easily slip away unnoticed.

I'll be honest and say that mustering the patience it takes to parent Henry the way we want to is difficult. I say "the way we want to" because some of our personal choices make parenting more difficult. For example, we use cloth diapers, so we're constantly rinsing poop into the toilet instead of just throwing it away. We avoid screen time with Henry, so I can never just plop him down in front of a TV and have some time to myself. I also don't want him in full-time daycare at this age, which means I have to stop work earlier than I would like every day and spend 2.5 hours alone as his sole care giver before Matt gets home. 

I don't say all of this to complain. Several times a day I find myself thinking, "I am so lucky to have this healthy, happy child in my life." I am seriously overwhelmed with gratitude whenever I stop to think about Henry.

I say it because I think we need more honest dialogue about the challenges of parenting. I can go a full week and only come across blogs talking about the amazing art/sensory/nature activities they set up for their toddler. 

But my point with this post is to talk about the strategy of "savoring each stage." It can be too easy to focus on the negative/difficult/challenging/frustrating parts of parenting. But with the right mindset, it can be so rewarding to shift our focus to the positive and to remind ourselves that our time with our children is fleeting and we should embrace it while we have it. It's all about the idea in this video: "The days are long, but the years are short." 

When I start to dread the monotony of getting Henry to get himself out of the car (he gets distracted by the buttons/switches/gadgets on the way down from his car seat), getting him to carry his school bag to the house (he wants to turn on the hose, pick up leaves, look at bugs), cajoling him to sit on the toilet (he wants to go directly to the refrigerator for snack), walking him through the steps of independently washing his hands, walking him through the steps of independently preparing his snack--I need to remind myself that "the days are long, but the years are short." There will come a time when Henry will no longer need my helping pulling his pants all the way up, when I won't feel the sweet clasp of his arms around my neck for support. There will come a time when we won't pause at the street to check for cars in each direction and make sure we're holding hands before we cross to the park. 

There will come a time when these things unceremoniously slip away and he just grows up. There is no time to waste feeling frustrated or bored or impatient with Henry as a toddler. I need to savor every moment. 

The same goes for what will likely be my last pregnancy. I'm trying to savor every piece of it. The first flutters, the miracle of a baby growing according to its own blueprint, my body's capacity to nurture another life--the list goes on. There's no time to focus on my difficulty sleeping or the fact that I have to eat in a meticulously healthy way and that my body doesn't feel like my own. 

Savoring each stage is a practice I need to continuously cultivate. We are heading into challenging times (two of my favorite bloggers nearly fell off the face of the Earth when they had their second children). 

But they are also beautiful times--times full of firsts and lasts. This will be the last time I give birth and the last time I breastfeed a child and the first time Henry and his brother meet.

Photo courtesy our friend, Renny

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Sarah said...


I think this is the article you are referencing:

I wrote a post about it back in October. It's definitely a lesson that I have to keep learning over and over. Right now I'm trying to enjoy waking up at 5 in the morning with HP (and appreciating that he sleeps through the night until then), but sometimes it's easier than others. Before I know it, he'll be a teenager I have to rouse out of bed in the morning...

Also, loved the video as I'm on a bit of a Gretchen Rubin kick at the moment.


Colleen said...

I feel you 100% (and thank you for honest dialogue! I, too, get frustrated by all of the "I have a perfect life" blogs :). I feel like i let my 3rd pregnancy go by without savoring it enough (since i had a 1 and 2 yo to keep up after). Realizing now that it was probably my last, I wish I had memorized those little kicks and nudges a little more.

freespiritfarm said...

Did I catch that you've found out you're having a boy? Congratulations! :)

Michele said...

Brother? Brother! So exciting!

Mismikado said...

I was thinking the exact same thing as @freespiritfarm and @Michele when I read that last line... Brother?! Eeep!

Alissa said...

Sara, thank you for this inspiring post today. I don't have children yet, but the concept of savoring the moment and looking for the things to be grateful for really resonates with me.

Also, congrats on having a second son! It's exciting to think of the relationship that Henry and his brother will develop.

Sara said...

Brother? BROTHER!!! :) Congratulations!!

Carrie said...


Julia said...

Congratulations on a second son! And PS, all Henry's hair is beautiful! He looks so much older since the last picture I saw.

Mrs. Jeffers said...

Hooray! A second boy to love! I read that with surprise several others posted and thought I might have missed the reveal! Are you planning a post that shares the story and your feelings of discovering the sex of this baby? I hope so, partially because I so appreciate your honest and interesting reflections and partially because I will have the same experience as we find out next month a little more about the baby growing within me!

Kristin said...

Hooray for a boy! We found out on Monday that we're having a girl! It will be interesting to compare and contrast our two kiddos since we're due so close together. Great post, too. Definitely trying to savor the moments since I have no idea if we'll have another child after this. Thanks!

Lady Grey said...

I am new to your blog, and reading this post has me totally hooked. I'm a new mom, and definitely finding it hard to adapt. I think that "the days are long but the years are short" is going to be my new mantra. Whenever I'm overwhelmed I will try to take a deep breath and remind myself of this.

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