This morning I sat with a family of two young boys, one of whom, at three years old, was having what I would call a characteristic day. He was contrary, full of his own opinions, and vocal. His parents were flummoxed, if not slightly frustrated; and as I commiserated with them–because anyone who has ever parented or cared for a toddler knows these things happen . . . repeatedly and a lot–I couldn’t help but think of a little piece of advice I give to myself whenever the going gets rough: One day my sons will be thirty years old . . .
On this blog and in my writing I don’t tend to highlight the tough stuff of daily life with children–the temper tantrums, the altercations between brothers, the messes, the sassiness. But it’s there, all of it and regularly. It doesn’t need to be shared because it’s ordinary, it’s expected, it’s what every child has done and every parent endured.
In fifteen years, though, when child-rearing (I won’t say parenting because that truly never ends) is behind me, I won’t be dwelling on any of that. It will get edited out–and it should. Just like the photos we choose to share with others, we edit out the experiences we don’t like, the ones that don’t show us at our best, the ones of which we are less than proud.
Ten minutes after this photo was taken, Oscar poured himself a bowl of cereal and used the largest bowl we had and a half-gallon of milk (most of which landed on the table and floor), August didn’t quite make it to the bathroom on time, and Edgar screamed that I was “the meanest mother ever” because I wouldn’t let him have potato chips for breakfast.
But that’s not what I want to remember about that day. It’s those smiles. It’s the love. Because nothing matters more than that. Nothing.