When the boys were very young we used to take them to a nearby community college during evenings and weekends. It was one of those Just Get Out of the House outings, less about the activity itself and more about, well, getting out of the damn house. The grounds were overrun with small brown rabbits; we’d try and make a game out of spotting them. When they were a bit older the boys teetered along on bikes, or maybe it was just Riley with his training wheels and Dylan still Godzilla-toddling around.

I can remember sitting in one of the courtyards while the kids played. I would stretch out on a picnic table and feel the sun on my face. The birds wheeling and calling overhead, the high-pitched laughter of my children.

Then maybe there was a lot of crying because someone fell and scraped a knee, or a frustrated, defeated retreat to the truck because someone else became inexplicably enraged about, say, the alignment of the planets. The great hassle of trying to get bikes or strollers put away, flailing children stuffed into carseats. Oh, it could all feel so exhausting and grim, back then.

I remember, quite well, how hard it was. But that’s not what my mind lingers on, when I think of those particular outings. I think of my kids running through an empty campus, thrilled with the exotic landscape of steps to be jumped and railings to be climbed. Their wide-open faces, the starfish-clutch of a small hand. The sun, the birds, the little rabbits that let you get so close.

I wish I’d known, during those sometimes-grueling early years, that it was perfectly okay not to enjoy every moment. That it wasn’t true that someday I would give anything to turn back the clock. That even the toughest days would be sent across the years like letters in a bottle, and when I opened them, I could read and re-read the very best parts.

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Kim
Kim
5 years ago

No, I’m not crying; there must be something in my eye or someone cutting onions nearby.

Stunningly beautiful.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

“… the starfish-clutch of a small hand.” That got me.

Mary
Mary
5 years ago

Thank you. My girls are 3 and 7. They are so sweet and wonderful and it is also so horribly grueling and painful at the same time. There is so much pressure to imprint each heartwarming moment onto your very soul because they won’t last, but at the same time, oh my God, it’s also kind of hell. It gets better? Because the “Oh, you think THIS is hard! Savor every moment!” bullshit is kind of killing me.

Deborah
Deborah
5 years ago

‘That even the toughest days would be sent across the years like letters in a bottle, and when I opened them, I could read and re-read the very best parts.’

Just beautiful! I can so relate to this.

Kristi
Kristi
5 years ago

Eloquently said as usual. Thank you.

Grace
Grace
5 years ago

The last paragraph. .

Jo
Jo
5 years ago

You have such a way with words! I read this as I sit with an eye on the baby monitor. Our daughter is five and a half months old and sometimes (like last night when settling her seemed impossible) I feel like I wish the days away wanting things to be easier and yearning to feel more like the old me again. All the cliches are true and no two days are the same. It can be so blimming hard but reading your words helped me remember that it will be worth it. Thank you :)

Annie
Annie
5 years ago

Aaah, so true, so poignant, so beautifully written. Thank you!

Vic
Vic
5 years ago

My daughter is 4 years old. That last sentence has knocked me for a loop and I’m fervently hoping that no one walks into my office to see tears running silently down my face. Thank you.

Jessie
Jessie
5 years ago

Thank you for this.

I have a one year old and a three year old.

I probably don’t need to say much else.

JB
JB
5 years ago

I think the writers block you were experiencing late last year is gone. This is beautiful.

Robyn Neville-Kett
Robyn Neville-Kett
5 years ago

With a 6 year old and an 8 month old I am so enmeshed in the rigors of life with littles. Reading this is a salve. Beautiful and comforting. Thank you so much, Linda.

maggie
maggie
5 years ago

I am blubbering over here. My girls are now 10 and 13 and gosh, how I remember those days. It was yesterday. Thank you!

Kerry
Kerry
5 years ago

Your words make me want to run up to the bedroom where my “still awake at 10pm” preschoolers are knocking around and snuggle them forever. Thank you.

Niki
Niki
5 years ago

And now I’m blatting. 21 and 19 and I miss them so much.

Lana
Lana
5 years ago

God, your words. It’s like you GET me.

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
5 years ago

Your words are poignant and beautiful.

Elizabeth K
Elizabeth K
5 years ago

Just started crying at your last sentence; these posts you’ve been writing are so real and honest and struggling and hopeful and wonderful. I’m so glad you are back online. I thought the post could go either way (funny — those days were hard, or serious — I miss them) but didn’t expect what you did and am just so grateful that my memories won’t ONLY be the times I lost my temper and screamed at them. Rereading the best parts; thank you.

LD's Mom
LD's Mom
5 years ago

Beautiful.

Marilyn
5 years ago

Just lovely, and much appreciated.

Love from a longtime fan and mom of twin two-year-olds

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

That last sentence is beautiful and so true! Made me cry.

Maggie
5 years ago

Once in the middle of the night as I was up nursing relatively newborn Oldest (who is now 14) and feeling exhausted and worn out all of a sudden the lyrics of Dust in the Wind popped into my head. I think my exhausted brain was trying to convince the rest of me that it wasn’t forever. For some reason that memory has stuck with me and every time I hear “I close my eyes only for a moment and the moment’s gone” now it reminds me of that time that seemed so unbelievably long and hard but now feel like they went by in the blink of an eye.

Anna
Anna
5 years ago

This is beautiful. We are in the thick of that time right. Is and I oscillate between absolute happiness watching their little selves and guilt at being too tired/bored/busy to enjoy every moment. Thank you for this.

Kris
5 years ago

So lovely.

Danell
Danell
5 years ago

You are so talented.

Joanne
5 years ago

That is my number one complaint about motherhood – the fact that everyone is so full of shit about it! I think but will never know that I might not have been so miserable during my kids (endless) early years if seemingly everyone wasn’t telling me to Enjoy Every Stupid Minute.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago

Beautiful.