Please Stop Telling Me How Fast it Goes
I had my second baby ten weeks ago and I’m already experiencing some sadness, some longing, for her tininess. At ten-and-a-half pounds but slender, she fits into about half of her Newborn sized clothing still, the rest 0-3 months. But every time I do a load of laundry and pull something out that’s clearly, suddenly, too small, I feel a little lurch in my stomach.
Everyone, everywhere I go seems to want to tell me the same damn thing I already know: “Enjoy every moment! It goes so fast!” Stop it, I want to scream, as I nod my head and ensure them that I am. Please stop telling me how fast it goes. I don’t need a reminder to enjoy my children. I am acutely aware of how fast it goes, and it’s breaking my freaking heart.
I have a two-year-old whose third birthday is whipping our way in a matter of weeks. I can still close my eyes and smell the back of her newborn head, feel her tiny body shaking in my arms that one night we could not get her to calm down and sleep no matter what, when she was three weeks old. Now she gets up and leaves the room on her own to use the bathroom, picks out her clothes, and has a social life of her own making.
The gray cotton robe I wore before being discharged after her delivery was thrown away at least a year ago, but I can feel it hanging open as I sat on the couch, watching Younger while an endlessly hungry Willow nursed the life out of me. I can taste the instant oatmeal I grew so fond of eating in those early days as a mom, can dream up every inch of her little face without needing to glance at a photograph.
Please stop telling me how fast it goes, because I already know. I look at this tall, beautiful, almost-three-year-old and my heart literally aches. I ache for loving her so damn much as she is today, and for the knowledge that she will never again be as I met her. She acts up and I scold her. Immediately I feel sick to my stomach. I’ve wasted an afternoon, an hour or two we’ll never get back, yelling at her over shoes or pretzel crumbs or the purposeful breaking of an item much less valuable than time.
I already know that in two years, ten years, fifteen years, I’ll look back and be sick about it all. Dropping them off at college, or wherever their young hearts take them when they leave me, will be like taking a bullet. I can imagine what it’ll feel like getting through the teen years — watching hair swish over shoulders and eyes roll around as they ignore my pleas to be careful, bemoan my curfews, and so on. Please don’t tell me how fast it goes because I am already sick about it.
When you see me in the store and my nearly-threenager is acting up, please don’t tell me how fast it goes. I am sweating, I am tired, I haven’t cooked or eaten hot a meal for myself in as long as I can remember. I am getting by on fumes here. Fumes and coffee. I am trying. I know it goes by fast. Faster than anything in the world, and it absolutely kills me. I will do my best to savor this fucking tantrum, but my guess is you wouldn’t be able to, either, even with your perspective on how fast it goes.
And don’t get me started on Goldie. Oh, you tiny thing. Still technically a newborn (I get three months, right??) and already breaking my heart. Sometimes I just want to hit rewind, scoot back to the hospital on the day we met. I would take it all — the major surgery, the hormone crash, and the cruel night nurse who withheld my pain meds — just to meet you again. To say hi to you once more, for the first time.
I could honestly do without the constant chatter over how big she’s getting. I have eyes, and I bought the clothes. I change the diapers. I am VERY aware of how big she’s getting. It literally hurts my soul. No, this does not mean I want to bubble-wrap and freeze my children and keep them at home with me forever (wait, actually, can I do that? Is that a thing?) but I also don’t need the reminder. You aren’t telling me anything new — you’re just repeating the same exhausting refrain that’s already going on in my head. I don’t want to hear it out loud, okay?
Please stop telling me how fast it goes, because I already know. I hold her tiny hand in my own and cry because it isn’t quite as tiny as it was on the day she was born. I treasure the “NB” stamp on the inside of the only pair of shoes that fit her, and I’ll weep the day they no longer do.
I wasted the first night she slept through, not sleeping myself but watching her do so. I get that the newborn stage gets a bad rap but in this house, it is cherished. I dread Wednesdays, because each one she turns another week older. Farther and farther from being the tiny bundle in my arms on the day she entered the world.
I don’t need the reminders about how she’ll only be little once. I already feel like crap when I have to put her down for five minutes to load the dishwasher or move the laundry along. But we cannot live in squalor because it goes too fast. So please stop telling me to ignore the chores and just “enjoy my baby.”
I enjoy my babies so much that sometimes I worry about my sanity. I make plans to leave them and then I cancel because the thought of actually doing so pains me. I lie awake in bed and think about their curled little lips, two pacifier-suckers barreling way too fast toward childhood, and tweendom, the teen years, and beyond.
My heart breaks a little when the toddler asks for her babysitter, when the baby reaches a new milestone. These are good and healthy signs of confidence, of growth. And yet to me they feel like a violation of the most precious thing a mother could ever have — time.
So the next time we run into each other and you see my legging-clad self, still up ten pounds of baby weight and wearing yesterday’s mascara as an undereye accessory, please do not “remind” me to “enjoy my children.” This whole thing is happening so lightning-quick I can barely get myself together. I’d rather hold my baby than do just about anything, would rather sit on the front stoop drinking seltzer with my toddler than return your email or even shower. I already know, I already know.
All I need to hear is that you hope we’re doing well. That the girls seem happy and, if you feel like it, that I’m doing a good job. But please, please stop telling me how fast it goes. I already know, and it’s the one thing I wish I forget.