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Yes, The Early Days Go By Fast, But That Didn't Make Them Any Easier

Photograph by Twenty20

At a family gathering over Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law shook his head at my oldest daughter standing next to me.

"Chaunie, she is literally almost as tall as you now!" he exclaimed.

My 9-year-old grinned up at me, at that tender age when she still thinks growing older is cool. I pulled her close, sighing both inwardly and outwardly as the bottom of my chin grazed as her hair. She really is almost as tall as me and I know it won't be long before she surpasses me.

Every time I look at my kids, they seem to grow before my eyes—limbs lengthening, cheeks slimming, baby grins turned the introspective smiles of young adults. It all has really gone so fast and I can't help but look back on the mother of babies and toddlers I used to be and wonder if I appreciated it enough. Did I do my best to enjoy it? Did I soak in every moment? Did I listen when they told me that time would be gone in a blink of an eye?

This has been on my mind a lot lately and the truth is, I am fully, completely aware that that time in my life—the time of littles and being trapped at nap time and struggling over every tiny task, every single day—was incredibly fleeting. But you know what?

The fact that it went by quickly didn't make it any easier for me. And I doubt it will make it any easier for any other mom currently going through it. Would it have helped the former me, desperate for any human to tell her she's not crazy for struggling with being trapped with very young kids who have been sick for months straight, to focus on how fast it goes by? Um, no.

Will it comfort the overwhelmed mom currently drowning under the weight of diapers and her own lactating breasts, that are called to attention every two hours, that this will be but a blip in her memory down the road? Ha.

Let's give moms a break and admit that, sure, it goes fast. But when you're living it? It's hard as hell.

Will it bring a light to the mom pregnant with that baby before she was exactly ready for another one to hear that someday she will look at her "Irish twins" and wonder how they got so old overnight? I don't think so.

The truth is, that stuff is hard to live through. And it's OK to admit that, even later down the road, when we have successfully lived through it. Because we all get it and we all know it's easier to look back than to move through it.

Let's give moms a break and admit that, sure, it goes fast. But when you're living it? It's hard as hell.

Someday you might look back and wonder where on earth those early years went. You might shake your head and marvel at how you made it through. You may even wonder if you "enjoyed" them enough—even though, truthfully, it was all kind of a sleep-deprived blur.

But for right now? If you're just trying to hold on tight and survive, I promise you that's enough. Take the small breaths and little wonders as they come, because we all know they are there, but don't get caught up in believing that you you are doing anything "wrong" if every moment is not soaked with bliss. Because even when those years are moving at lightning speed, they can still be hard.

Yeah, once you've made it, you might look back, forgetting the time you woke up covered in someone else's vomit, and instead remembering all the good times.

But when you do? Keep it to yourself and just encourage a mama in the trenches that she's doing her best, no matter how "fast" or "slow" it seems to go by.

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