October 26, 2015

What the Lady at the Grocery Store Didn't Tell Me

My older daughter is a high-school junior.

Oh, mama, let me catch my breath for a second, because I'm still caught off-guard by that shocking fact.

My daughter. My firstborn. The baby with whom I share a middle name and, sometimes, clothes, is a high school junior. 

I didn't feel this thrown when she finished middle school. "Freshman" sounded young and still childlike. Sophomore comes off as inherently and appropriately immature (see "sophomoric"). But junior? As in, next stop, senior? As in, "start paying attention to all those college information emails from the school guidance counselor you've been dismissing up until this point"? As in, "you'd better figure out who's going to take her senior pictures"? 

Hold on...I'm still regrouping.

While I'm at it, I'm flashing back to my new-mom days and to that older mom at the grocery store, telling me, "Cherish every moment. It goes by so fast. In a blink, she'll be all grown up."



With the clarity of hindsight, here's what else I think she might have told me if it hadn't been abundantly clear my baby was on her last Cheerio and I was on my last nerve.

1. It goes so fast, but sometimes only when it's already gone. When you're in it--I mean, IN it up to your sleep-deprived eyes--motherhood often creeps by with agonizing slowness. Right about the time you're figuring out the whole senior picture thing, you start to think you just got her 5-weeks-2-days-and-36-minutes-pictures done. But that doesn't mean you didn't appreciate all the moments in between. 

2. You are not the only one. Whatever "it" is that you feel like you might be the only mom doing or not doing or feeling or not feeling, you've probably got company somewhere. Find another mom at library lap time or in the church nursery or at the pediatrician's, lay "it" on the line, and wait for the blessing of a "me, too" moment. There are few things more encouraging than to say or hear, "Really? I thought it was just me."

3. Everything that's good to do is not necessarily good to do right now. When my older daughter was not quite 6, we started her in kindergarten, dance, and a midweek kid's club at church. All in the same week. Rookie mistake. (Only kindergarten ended up making the cut that year.) As a mom, joining a book club might be good. Training for a marathon might be good (I mean, not for me, but some some other mom). Repainting your bedroom might be good. Getting your master's degree might be good. But any of these good things might not be good in this season, and they almost certainly are not good all in the same season.

4. It will be okay. That thing you're worried about right now--getting your baby to sleep through the night, potty training, friend drama, college applications? It will probably turn out just fine. Of course, some things are not fine at all, and my heart goes out to parents who are living with these every day. Also, the journey from here to okay is often hard and exhausting. But with some effort and time, most sources of mom worry end up working themselves out. And this is coming from one of the worryingest mom worriers of them all. I worried that my firstborn would never learn to write her name or count past 29 or have any lasting friends or survive high-school geometry. She did. It was all okay. And your "it" most likely will be, too.

5. You don't have to fight every battle there is to be fought. TV/sugar/screen-time consumption. Messy rooms. Kids who don't love reading. That t-shirt your elementary child wants to wear day after day. There's always something that can be an issue. And what matters to one mom for very good reasons might not matter at all to another for equally good reasons. But in general, is this battle eternally important? Does it have to do with shaping your son or daughter's soul? Will it really count in a week or a month or a decade? I personally try (try) to use this litmus test: many years ago, the cane seat in the chair I use at our computer broke through. (I tried not to take it personally.) My then-4-year-old wrote me a note about it. Translated from her preschool phonetics, it said, "I'm sorry ('srre') about the seat but that's not the importantist ('inpotinist') thing because God is." If it's not an importantist thing, maybe it doesn't need to be a thing in my life or in your life after all.

Of course, these days, I am the older mom at the grocery store. (Let me catch my breath again.) For a list of what I'd tell a young mom now that I've put in 16 years at the University of Motherhood, hop over to Mom Babble(Really, I'd be so grateful if you put off painting your bedroom or training for that marathon or whatever and clicked on this linkYou're heading there right now? Thank you so much...can I send you some cookies?)

Gratefully shared @ Works For Me Wednesday.

43 comments:

  1. Love this, so much truth to this post. Yes, while you're up IN it, it feels like it goes so slowly. And then you turn around and look back, and realize how fast your little grows up. I love #2, we're not alone even if it feels like we're the only one dealing with a particular issue.

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    1. Thank you, Julie...you've been such an encouragement to me today! And extra thanks for taking the time to hop over to my Mom Babble piece and to comment there, too! What kind of cookies would you like? ;)

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  2. I totally get where your head is right now. My oldest may not be a Junior in High School, but he is studying to take his drivers test. Oh boy it sure does seem to have flown by, but as the time went by I seemed to think I always had more time. Looking back I would have wanted to hear the same things.

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    1. Oh, good, Catherine...I'm not alone in my head! :) If your son is studying for his driving test, we surely are kindred spirits and in a similar place in motherhood. My daughter has her license, and I can tell you that having another driver in the house if FABULOUS. I mean, except for the petrifying fear and the insurance. But other than that, fabulous. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words!

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  3. For a long time I would chant to myself "The days are so long, the years are so short." It's so true. My 5th baby just turned 2 (though my oldest hasn't quite hit 12 yet, so we aren't to those teen years!). Five different times I swam through the toddler years feeling like I was drowning constantly. Then one day you are standing on the shore looking around and wondering how in the world you got there...and (if you're crazy) wondering if you should get back in the water again. ;)

    I totally love this! Thanks for being so uplifting. I've seen several moms of teens lately talking about how they wish they could go back to worrying about sippy cups...as if that's why life with toddlers is a struggle. sigh

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    1. Jamie, Jamie...aren't you just a blessing to me? "The days are so long, the years are so short." Brilliant. Also: yes!!! I can't tell you how much it means to me that you would take time out of your busy-times-five schedule (wow! from toddler to tween!) to encourage me with your thoughtful words. Blessings to you in the sea and on the shore, sweet mama.

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  4. Well, if you're the older mom then I'm Methuselah!

    My girls are 35 and 37 now and I've got 7 grandchildren, 1 who's already gone home to be with Jesus. Let me tell you, the decades FLY ... but His mercies are new every morning. Embrace each moment, enjoy the beauties of every season for there are many.

    And by the way? 60 is the new 30!

    ;-}

    Good to meet ya today, Elizabeth ...

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    1. Heehee. Linda...I LOVE that 60 is the new 30! Woo hoo! What a joy the season you're in must be...I'm already looking forward to it--in DUE (read: God's) time, of course. So glad you meet you, too...I'm off to find your site right now!

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  5. I love this, Elizabeth! Although I'm not a mom, I think many of these are valuable to consider for any part of your life. #3 especially is good. I often want to do everything-because maybe you won't get to later! But that is a poor perspective, because everything has its own season, right?
    Thanks for the insight, I really enjoyed reading this.

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    1. Thank you so much, Hannah! And you are right: I often tell myself (entirely apart from my life as a mom or as counsel to my girls) that just because something is good to do doesn't mean it's good to do right now. It helps keep me focused. I so appreciate your kind and thoughtful feedback...thank you for taking time to visit today! :)

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  7. I love this post! I was a bit emotional while reading it. I see that the time does really fly, but then there are days when I am thinking, fly faster (just keeping it real here)! "Does it have to do with shaping your son or daughter's soul?" I love this point! One worth asking every day when choosing which battles to fight!

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    1. Oh my goodness, thank you, Anika! And yes, yes, yes...keep it real, mama! Have you seen the Anita Renfroe sketch where she talks about the lady saying if moms blink, they'll miss "it," and Anita blinks very dramatically and says, "It's all still there!" :) And thank you for taking my little "shaping the soul" test in a positive way. Sometimes, it might seem like a cop-out for fighting a battle I'm too tired to fight, but at the heart of it, I really think it works. We moms only have so much energy in a given day, so this helps me direct that energy toward what will have eternal value. Thank you for taking time to stop by and for your sweet comments!

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  8. I'm all too familiar with that lady in the grocery store conversation, and I do try to cherish it because even at 2 it still feels like I just brought my daughter home a week ago. I love the list that goes along with your points, especially number 3. That's something I never thought about. Some days, I worry that my daughter isn't doing enough by herself or with other kids, but your statement really hit home. Time is fast enough with a growing kid in tow, there's no sense in throwing more on ourselves (or our kids) just to make it go even faster. Definitely eye-opening for me. I'll definitely scale back on the activities (like playgroup, story time, and swim class all in one week...) and perhaps just enjoy the days while she's still little...Thank you for another inspiring post, Elizabeth :)

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    1. Aw, you're so sweet, Maria! I certainly was not wanting to condemn any other mom's schedule (and of course that is not what you responded!), only to share what worked--and didn't!--for us. I can tell you this: when my youngest daughter was 3, I agonized over finding a preschool for her. There's such a push toward it now, and I thought she should be going. I looked and looked and could not find the "right" one. Finally, I believe God gave me wisdom to just say, "Why don't the two of us just 'hang out' for this year?" We did mommy-and-me little classes and went to Bible study and took naps on the couch. And now that she's 12, I cherish that time to my core. It has been much easier to send her to preschool (that next year) and elementary and middle school knowing that we "did" that year together. It worked for us. :) Blessings on you, mama, as you continue to collect those sweet moments!

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  9. When you are in it, it creeps along. So true!

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    1. Oh, good...so it wasn't just me? :) Heehee..thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. I remember my mom telling me your #4. She said it will be ok. She reminded me that what felt like it was taking forever would really only be a small part of mine and my child's life - only a few years. That really helped my perspective - and gave me hope! :) Best wishes!

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    1. Jendi, it sounds like you had a smart mama. I love that you said her wisdom gave you hope...what a gift for any mom (or any human being, period). Thank you for visiting today!

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  11. As a mother to two young kids (4 and 6) it seems they are days when it seems they are going to be young forever, but then I stop and think wow my son is 6 almost 7 it seems only yesterday I had him, it goes by way too fast.

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    1. You are in the thick of such special years, Miranda...with so much left to look forward to as well! Blessings on you, mama...thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Wait till they get married, leave home, then bring the grandchildren around. You really get to see yourself in action. Time does fly and before you know, grocery stores, school carpools, fussing over eating/not eating, etc. are all distant memories. Thanks Elizabeth for sharing on Tuesday Talk today.

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    1. I love having the wisdom of your perspective, Michelle. I am trying to savor where we're at now while at the same time looking forward to what's to come. Thank you for HOSTING Tuesday Talk! :)

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  13. I love sharing the "me too" moments! Sometimes that is better to hear than any parenting advice. It helps me realize that I'm doing okay. Since becoming a mom, I can absolutely "Amen" to #4. Worrying doesn't change anything, accept make me want to eat ice cream, which I don't need to do! :) I hope that your daughter's junior year is full of great memories!

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    1. Emily, you are so right about the "me, too" sometimes being better than any advice we can offer! Thanks for taking time to stop by today and for your kind wishes. So far, this year has been lovely for my daughter...I pray that continues! ;) Blessings to you and your entire Wilson family "kingdom"! :)

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  14. Elizabeth, I don't know where you live, but I sure wish you'd move next door to me. Please? Hold my hand as I parent littles? I promise to do the same for you as you parent your not-so-littles! {Thank you, THANK YOU for your wisdom. I so appreciate - and chuckle at - every single post I read here.}

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    1. Aw, thank you, Mary! I'd love to be your neighbor! :) I'd send my tween and teen over for a dose of your incomparable humor and wisdom ASAP! ;) Thank you so much for encouraging me and teaching me and for being such a gracious hostess at Works For Me Wednesday. P.S. Can I borrow a cup of sugar?

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  15. This is sound advice...the sort of advice I wish veteran mothers gave more often! I like #4 especially. Each struggle or issue seems so big in the moment, but when you put it in the context of the big picture, it's more manageable.

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    1. Thank you as always, dear Shannon. I'm sure when you're on the other side of active motherhood, "it goes so fast" is what stands out most. But I know when you're IN it, other realities are at the forefront. As for #4, I need to remind myself of that over and over because "it will be okay" is NOT my default setting! ;) But now it's "out there," so to speak, so I'd better practice what I preach, right? Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  16. YES. Sometimes it doesn't go quickly, and I think moms need to hear that it's okay if they don't "cherish" the fits and the fights and sleepless nights.

    I'm hosting a link party over on my blog I'd love for you to stop by and link up with us! http://winsteadwandering.com/the-alder-collective-link-party-no-4/

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    1. Aw, thank you, Abby! I'm so glad to meet you. And you are right: moms have enough on them without also carrying the burden of feeling like we have to "cherish" every moment. Good grief! ;) Thank you so much for the party invitation...I just stopped by and am now headed back to grab a button for my party page. Blessings to you!

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  17. Everything that's good to do is not necessarily good to do right now. LOVE THIS!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I have found it to be a useful "test' for what to do now, what to do next, and what to do never. "The tyranny of the urgent' and all that...;) Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! And thanks for taking time to stop by and read my little list! :)

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  19. I'm still knee deep in the sleep deprived years that seem to never pass but I know they will be grown before I know it. I love the tips about not having to fight every battle. It's so easy to get caught up in what you should be doing based on what everyone else is doing but sometimes we can easily overwhelm ourselves. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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    1. Aw, bless your heart, tired mama! And you are right: the "shoulds" of motherhood can be so unrelenting and graceless. As I said in another comment, the "tyranny of the urgent" can be so strong, and so much about being a mom feels so urgent. But I've found that when I let some battles go, it gives me strength for the ones that matter more. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, Victoria!

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  20. Heading over to read that post right now. I'm a first-time mom of a 4 month old and it's already going fast. I just want to enjoy every single moment and make time stop!

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    1. Well, Jacquelyn...you are clearly already a wise mama to be trying to savor every moment! I think that's pretty unusual for a new mom...there's so much to figure out that it can be hard to enjoy! Your little one is blessed to have you...as you are to have her. Enjoy the now and look forward to the then!

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  21. Oh Elizabeth...this is SO spot on! AND I loved your MomBabble piece, too!
    Humor is the only way to get "through" parenthood... Course, as they start getting married and moving on...well, sometimes the tears make their way to the surface ;-)
    Please keep sharing with our readers at Coffee & Conversation!!!!
    Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you so much, Pat! Goodness, I am practically weeping just thinking about the "married and moving on" years. Thank you for the reminder to cherish the now even as I look forward to the then. Bless your heart, mama! And I am a devoted and greatly appreciative fan of Coffee & Conversation...I'll see you soon! ;)

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  22. Great post! I am the mom of a senior! a SENIOR!!! and 3 kids younger down to two years old. So today while standing in the long line at the deli a mom tells me how quickly these days of the kids being kids in a long line will pass. I love the shock when I say "Oh, don't I know it! My oldest is a senior and just yesterday he was this kid playing around the line and crowd." It does go fast! This year is full of lasts, last high school football game most recently, that I am allowing myself to be a little sad about, yet, happy because there are so many firsts coming his way. Thanks again for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesday.

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  23. Aww, Tracy, bless your sweet heart! A SENIOR! Congratulations! And yet at the same time, I can begin to imagine how your "year of lasts" must feel. I love your wise blend of "allowing" yourself some sadness and yet your choice to be happy about all the firsts ahead. What a perfect balance. I will try to follow your lead. Thank you so much for stopping by...I was just checking out your site and I love it! :)

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!