"Enjoy this time - they grow up so fast"! How many times do parents hear those prophetic words? When they are crying in a supermarket checkout line, throwing a tantrum when they don't want to leave somewhere, or when they spit vegetables back at you during dinner - most parents yearn for the day when they will actually grow up.
For some reason over the past couple of days, I have been watching toddlers and feeling a little sad. How did my sons grow up so fast? While walking at the track at my local YMCA today, I took a water break to watch the toddler gymnastic class going on below me. Mothers coaxed their children over balance beams and through tunnels, praising them at every accomplishment. It seems like only yesterday that I was doing that with my sons in a baby swim class, trying to get them to put their face in the water and blow bubbles.
Now I just sit on the sidelines during their activities, watching them as they do karate kicks or run the bases, and it isn't as much fun. Gone are the days of taking afternoon naps after watching Barney - now they want to stay up until 10:00 PM to watch wrestling (which doesn't happen!). Trying to get them to sit through an entire movie with me is torture for them - they always want to go off and do another activity.
A few years back I bought a book called "Let Me Hold You Longer" by Karen Kingsbury which takes a different view of children growing up. The story is talks about how parents put so much emphasis on the "first" time a child does something, like walk or talk, but how they fail to remember the "last" times. Who remembers the exact last time you put your child in a stroller? Or the last time they drank from a bottle? When these milestones arrived in our family, I'm sure we were relieved. No more bottle washing and hauling strollers around - but now I wish I remembered the specific instances and had take more notice.
But there will always be photos . . . and the memories!