What If You Didn’t Hear It Again?

It drives us nuts. We told them to stop. It’s something they just have to grow out of, have to stop. The annoying baby voice they do. The screaming for no reason. The curse word they picked up at school. The insult they’re hurling at a sibling. The extremely loud heavy metal band they’ve taken over the garage with. The noise we asked them to just please, for the love of god, to stop making.

If I hear it one more time, we threaten.

But here’s a thought: What if it was the last time you heard it? As we’ve talked about here many many times, there is an end to everything as a parent. Yes, in the morbid, mortality sense—a reality that should hover over us, as we’ve said. But also in the much more practical and subtle sense that our kids do grow up and out of things. All of it ends at some point.

And how will we feel then, whether we’re sitting in a funeral or an empty playroom or dropping them off for college? We will feel so terribly, terribly sad. We’ll miss it. We’ll actually miss this very thing that’s currently driving us insane.

You should be so lucky to hear it one more time! Or if you can’t quite get there, you can remind yourself that none of it lasts forever and that slowly, over time, your feelings about this noise or that thing will soften. The volume will get turned down in your own mind. It won’t seem so obnoxious, and eventually, inevitably, you’ll feel nostalgic for it.

So maybe give yourself—and them, because they’re just having fun, just being a kid, just trying stuff out—a little bit of that grace now.

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