Every so often I come across some photographs of my older children of when they were very little. My heart aches a bit when I find them and it feels a bit like homesickness to look at their picture and wish I could hold my little ones again. I love who they are now. I love talking with them and spending time with them and seeing glimpses of the adults they will be. But... just for a couple brief moments I wish I could turn back time and enjoy them as very small people again.
I worry that I didn't appreciate them enough when they were small. I remember being the mother of three or four very young children. I remember being tired and often grumpy and often impatient with their needs. I worry that I was focused on what I wanted them to be able to do rather than what they had just mastered. I worry that I wanted them to grow up too fast. Because I've learned in the meantime that they do grow up and master many things and it happens in the blink of an eye... though it may not feel like it when the entire population of people you spend you days with are all in diapers and cannot fix their own food or wipe their own noses.
I feel as though I have been given a gift with my younger children. I know how fast they grow up and while I am still impatient and grumpy sometimes I also know with every ounce of my being that I will wake up tomorrow and D. and TM will be learning to drive and K. will be going off to summer camp and the baby girls will be ready to spread their wings and go places on their own. I am no rush to see these little ones grow up. And I don't want to wonder several years from now if I appreciated their childhood enough. Every time I button K.'s pajama shirt I know that soon he will be doing it for himself. Every time I change a baby's diaper I know that while it seems endless today, the day is quickly approaching when diapers will no long appear on my grocery list. Every time TM or D. come running up to me to give me a hug and kiss I know that soon these marks of affection will soon become a bit more self-conscious.
My grandmother used to say in reference to me and my brother that she loved us so much it hurt. As a child I found this statement to be absolutely baffling. But as a mother with children? It makes all the sense in the world.