I've been thinking, lately, about the difference between being a mom in your twenties and being a mom in your thirties. There are ten years between my oldest and my youngest. And it seems I notice nearly every day differences in how I am mothering Kaleb and how I mothered Haley. I am much more patient with Kaleb (which is good, because he's MUCH more difficult than Haley was!) and I think I can more clearly see what is worthy of worry and what is just not worth stressing over. But I think the most important knowledge I have gathered---or, maybe, have just begun gathering---is the absolute necessity of paying attention and savoring everything.
I so clearly remember how frustrated I sometimes felt in my days as a young mom. Haley was just four and a half when Nathan---my third---was born, and Jake wasn't yet two. So, I had two in diapers. Sleep became a myth. My days were full of toys, clothes with innumerable snaps, whining, tears, skinned knees, those glistening white baby teeth. I was surrounded by trikes, bottles, wipes, Disney paraphernalia. And I thought it would last forever. Don't get me wrong---I adored my babies. But it seemed that they would be babies forever, that I would never be free of "momma" being my only defining characteristic. I became a solitude junkie---I craved it more than anything else.
But, you know: it did end. Before I had Kaleb, I was on auto pilot. I could decide to go somewhere and then just go. I felt free. But, as life always goes, I also felt sad. Why hadn't I realized that those days filled with babies really would end? Why didn't I savor it more? Take more pictures? Write down more details? So now, here I am, with another baby and these things that I have learned. And I'm implementing them. I will never complain about changing a diaper. I will laugh at him while he eats instead of wishing he'd hurry. I will kiss his toes whenever I want to and gaze into his autumn-colored eyes whenever I can. And I don't think I will ever again crave solitude like I did back then. I know now that solitude will return. I can wait for it. But these baby days? They are never coming back. So I am unabashedly savoring them.