Yes, it is terribly difficult. And stressful. And expensive. And overwhelming–physically, emotionally, even sonically. Noises. Demands. Unfixable problems. Not nearly enough sleep.
Yet…there is no question you will remember their earliest years fondly, increasingly so as the years go by. That’s just how it works.
The writer Caitlan Flanagan reflected in a piece for The Atlantic, about a moment recently when she flashed back to an ordinary day when her (now adult) twin boys were little:
“I saw the faces of those little boys who aren’t here anymore,” she wrote, “the ones who lived with me in the dreamtime of early childhood. My husband worked, I stayed home, and five long days a week we did things I knew they would never remember. Like the first time they heard the music of an ice-cream truck. I bought them each a Pokémon popsicle, and here’s the mind-blowing thing: They had no idea what was inside those wrappers until I took them off. When I gave them those astonishing, perplexing, never-before-seen popsicles (“My popsicle is raining,” one of them said in confusion when it started dripping), they looked at me the way they often did in the dreamtime: as though I was the most wonderful, and kind, and important person in the whole world.”
What a perfect way to put it–the dreamtime of early childhood. Now perhaps you’re so deep in the dream as you read this that it feels a little bit like a nightmare. All the more reason to hear and to know and to remember that this is a wonderful time. In fact, it’s all a wonderful time. And it goes by so, so fast.
Most of the things you do together, your kids won’t remember. Eventually it will all blur together into a kind of mental movie that watches better than it was lived in the moment. But eventually you’ll miss it. At the end of your life, you’ll go to bed each night hoping, praying for just one more chance to dream that dream again. So give yourself the gift of appreciating it now. Don’t waste it. Don’t resent it. Don’t let it overwhelm you.
Be the most wonderful, kind and important person in the world to your kids. Make those early childhood years a dream for them to live, and a dream for you to remember, because they will be gone before you know it. Memories fade, but the impact you have on your kids as a great parent will be felt for the rest of their lives.