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Kinsa

Would you have thought I was an annoying freak if I...

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Yesterday as I was leaving the McDonald's parking lot, I was parked next to a minivan with both side doors wide open and a semi-frazzled looking mama was unloading her four young sons, probably the oldest was 4 or 5, down to lap baby age. I patiently waited to pull out of my parking spot until all her kids and she were up on the sidewalk because I remember how it used to be herding four little boys around.

 

I watched her with such a heartfelt... what's the word? ... understanding? Empathy? Blast from my own past? A whirlwind of memories came flashing back to me.

 

I made a comment to my 15yo son. I said, "See that lady walking into McD's with the four little boys? That used to be me. And the baby she's carrying used to be you." He just nodded his teenager head and grunted his teenager grunt which is used to communicate all manner of meaning. In this case, it meant, "Yep, Mom, you're getting old! "

 

For a couple of fleeting seconds I seriously considered getting out of my car and approaching this young mama of four young boys and imparting all of my hard-earned matronly wisdom upon her:

 

"Excuse me, ma'am, I can't help but notice that you have four young boys, all close in age. I, too, used to be in your shoes, and I lived to tell the tale! Hold on to these years, dear mama, because they will fly so fast! I know that most days you just count down the minutes until they all go to bed, but dearest mama, hang onto each moment while you still can! You are so blessed, and you have a beautiful family! "

 

Then I would've gotten back into my car and driven away.

 

So... exactly how freaky would that have been? Cuz I tell you what, if it happens again, I'm gonna do it!

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I've had mothers say similar to me (well not about all four boys since I don't have that).  I thought it was sweet.  But thought the person had forgotten what I was actually going through at the moment.  

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I appreciate all the grandmas who told me that I would survive two under two :)

When I went to In-N-Out burger with my double stroller, at least one of their staff would run out and open the doors for me. I was always offered help out at supermarkets. The ladies at the Trader Joes sample station always come from behind the counter to give my kids samples. We would walk and stop by TJs on the way home from weekly storytime at Borders.

 

ETA:

I had strangers tell me I was crazy to have two under twos.

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I have 4 children ages 6,5,2, and 5 months. I get a lot of comments in regards to my family size, their ages, and the fact that I'm lugging all of them around by myself. The kind of comments you would have made would be weird if I didn't also get negative comments. The negative comments bother me so much(not enough to ruin my day but just sort of get under my skin for a bit) that positive comments are refreshing. Small reminders that it goes fast and to enjoy it even when it sucks are welcomed by me.

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Freaky for me. It wouldn't ruin my day, but I would not prefer it.  Maybe something like oh you have such a lovely family.  Or something like that.  Something a little less gushy. 

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I was on the subway once and saw the cutest little boy wearing the exact same shirt my son used to insist on wearing every day.  So, I pointed it out to him and whispered something silly like "remember that shirt, I think he looks even cuter than you did."  and we were laughing at the idea that my big son used to be so tiny, talking quietly but loudly enough to be heard, when I realized that the woman spoke no English, and all she knew was that we were pointing at her precious child and laughing.  If she'd understood our words, she would have known we meant no harm and were admiring her cute child, but you could see that she was really hurt.  I tried to explain, but failed, and felt horrible.

 

So, now I'm hesitant to comment on cute kids.  

 

If you heard her speaking English, I'd say go for it.

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Freaky for me. It wouldn't ruin my day, but I would not prefer it. Maybe something like oh you have such a lovely family. Or something like that. Something a little less gushy.

I agree. I maybe would say something like "what adorable boys!". I also tend to think you just don't know someone's full story approaching them like that. Maybe she does day care. Maybe her husband moved out last night. Maybe she would kill for a beer and a talk with a girlfriend. Maybe she didn't get enough sleep last night. Maybe one of her kids was just diagnosed with something.

 

There are definitely moments with littles I did not appreciate the gushy experienced mother talk. Especially because my kids have some quirks that most parents don't have to deal with. I did often think they just didn't remember the exhaustion and stress. I also think it can come off as condescending.

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I agree. I maybe would say something like "what adorable boys!". I also tend to think you just don't know someone's full story approaching them like that. Maybe she does day care. Maybe her husband moved out last night. Maybe she would kill for a beer and a talk with a girlfriend. Maybe she didn't get enough sleep last night. Maybe one of her kids was just diagnosed with something.

 

There are definitely moments with littles I did not appreciate the gushy experienced mother talk. Especially because my kids have some quirks that most parents don't have to deal with. I did often think they just didn't remember the exhaustion and stress. I also think it can come off as condescending.

Very true. You have no idea what someone else is going through. They may be struggling with any number of things...or not. Once an elderly grandma type saw me in a store with three of my girls, about ages 10, 5, and 3. She came over and said, "Oh honey! It's going to be ALL RIGHT!" As if she knew I needed comfort and reassurance because I was having such a hard time. The thing was, I wasn't. I tried to tell her, "I'm really okay," but she continued to comfort me. I'd been a mom for a decade. No, not everything was easy peasy, but I was handling it all right and at that moment, in the store, I was having an easy day with just my three girls. I didn't tell the lady I also had two boys at home. (And two more kids were born later.)

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I had a cranky first child, and I felt like every time I tried desperately to soothe her in public, some well-meaning older mom would say to me something along those lines--treasure these days,

etc. And I would want to slap her, because I could not wait for those days to be over. And now they are, and that crabby baby who was almost an only child until we realized we could adopt and skip the infant nonsense, is 17. And I STILL do not miss those days. Not one single time have I looked back and thought, "I wish they were all little again." So you might get slapped, and you might be wrong. I never got angry or thought it was weird, but all those words did was make me feel guilty for being stressed out because my infant hated me. Maybe commiseration would be more appropriate than "treasure every moment."

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I wouldn't mind it. I would feel pressured to know how to respond, but I wouldn't mind.

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I was that frazzled mom, too. When we adopted our youngest children, I had a three year old (she turned four a few weeks later), an 18 month old, a ten month old, and a five month old. I didn't leave the house much for awhile. Even when they were a little older, they were hard to manage when we were out and about.

 

One day a woman saw me trying to keep track of all of my preschoolers and toddlers at the library and said something along the lines of, "Don't worry; it does get better!" It didn't bother me, but it didn't help me, either. I think I just acknowledged her comment with a nod and a smile before chasing after another child. I guess it made me feel like it was obvious that I was struggling, and I didn't want it to be obvious.

 

I think I'd vote for not saying anything. Even though I'd be tempted to chime in with a little encouragement now that my kids are older, I'd just smile instead.

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The kindest words that were ever said to me during those times were, "I remember those days!" Empathetic, general.

 

 

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I think I'd rather hear, "You're doing a great job."  I don't like the implication that I'm somehow not appreciating them enough because I'm tired or stretched thin or whatever.

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I would have appreciated something more like, "What adorable boys! I have several boys myself; I remember those days." I'm a little sensitive to anything resembling, "You have your hands full" because it implies that I can't handle my children. Some days they are being more of a handful than others, but as a app said, you never know what kind of day the mom is having, so you don't want her thinking she's not doing it right. I do love when people tell me how cute the kids or, or that they had a bunch themselves.

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It would depend.  What you typed up sounds a bit lecture-ish but also a bit gushy ("dearest mama").   I'd prefer a smile and a "I have 4 too!  I remember those days!"  Of course it depends on how you say things.

 

Honestly I got tired of people telling me the time would go by so fast and I should enjoy every precious minute.  I love my kids, but I am so happy to be on the other side of childhood with mine.  I don't feel like the time went all that fast.  I may change my mind about that, I know.

 

The other thing is, when I was focused on my kids, getting them in and out of the car and stores,etc, I didn't necessarily appreciate the distraction.

 

I did have a neat experience once though.  My kids were having a terrible time behaving in the library so we put our books down and left.   The library faced a big lawn so I let the kids run around and get their energy out.  I was feeling pretty defeated.  And older lady came out and walked over to me and said "I saw what happened in there.  You did the right thing.  You are a good mom."  And she walked off.  It made me feel so much better!  After a few minutes the kids were calmed down enough to go back in and get our books.  I will always remember that.

 

ETA:  Sorry to be a downer, Kinsa.  I understand what you are thinking.  You have a good heart.  :grouphug:

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Since you were already in your car ready to go, if you had gotten back out to talk to me, I would have thought you were a little loony. I do love to tell a mom that she has a beautiful family. And I love when people tell me the same. I would have totally appreciated the sentiment, if you were not jumping out of your car. That would have made me do a quick count thinking you were coming to tell me I had forgotten one. Which I never did, but was always a little paranoid about.

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I never like the "hold onto these years they fly so fast, enjoy every moment because they'll be gone in a flash." It is always guilt inducing because I am so tired it is hard to enjoy all the moments.

 

I saw a toddler girl who reminded me of my oldest, shoulder length curly hair at 2 or so. I recalled how lovely she was but also recalled the extreme fatigue which was before my adrenal fatigue was diagnosed. I couldn't decide whether to smile or cry...cry because I didn't enjoy it the way we'ee told we're supposed to. And then that makes me a bad mom and I'll regret this later, yada, yada you know the mom-guilt drill. But maybe that works for some people.

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The most helpful and encouraging interactions I've had were acknowledgements in a difficult situation ("Hang in there, Mom" or "Being a good Mom's tough, stick to your guns, Mama!" when a tantruming toddler was flailing on the floor) or a general, "You've got a beautiful family!" when things were going fine.   And, having big guys myself now,  I understand the nostalgia that comes when you see a little baby or a Mom toting a few kids around.  But to be honest, I've never found the whole "Enjoy them while they're little" or "You've got your hands full" to be helpful or edifying.  Those early years, for many Moms, are just about survival.  Sleep-deprivation.  Tantrums.  Little people with big needs.  And they do fly in retrospect, or, as a friend of mine says, "the days are long but the years fly by."

 

And I always felt pressure from those comments.  Was it obvious I wasn't enjoying *anything* at that moment? Did they feel sorry for my kids having such a frazzled Mom?  Now I realize it's more the commenter just feeling a little misty about a phase of their life being over.  Maybe it's more helpful to share that sentiment with Moms in the same boat rather than Moms in the trenches.  Everyone knows they should enjoy the moments, and certainly they've heard the "enjoy it, it flies" sentiment before.  

 

Anyway, It's not in my nature to talk to random people, but if I ever feel struck with the urge I think I'd limit it to, "What a beautiful family, you're obviously doing something right!" or something similarly encouraging.

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Honestly I got tired of people telling me the time would go by so fast and I should enjoy every precious minute.  I love my kids, but I am so happy to be on the other side of childhood with mine.  I don't feel like the time went all that fast.  I may change my mind about that, I know.

 

 

 

Oh my, this.  Enjoy every precious minute?  It was such a wonderful day when I realized that my kids were old enough that I could run to the grocery store without them, take a shower longer than 2 minutes, or sleep in without worrying what they were getting into.

 

One person's precious moments is not the same as someone else's.  I still shudder when I think of those harried moments in life with two littles, I would not want to go back.

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The enjoy every minute makes me twitchy, but if you said you have 4 boys and her family makes you smile remembering your little guys, there's nothing wrong with that. :)

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My oldest was a cranky baby and by the time he settled down somewhat I became chronically ill. Eight years later, I may finally be recovering, but I still have a very challenging oldest child. When you are chronically ill with little kids, each day lasts feels like it lasts about two or three days to a normal person. So no, the years don't fly by for me. No, I will not miss the reality of what things have been like.

 

I know Kinsa means well. I just hate these comments myself because they don't apply to me.

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Thinking about it a little more, I tend to think unsolicited edifying talks to moms of younger kids are more cathartic for the more experienced mom that just had a strong memory than helpful for one getting that message to enjoy every minute.  I think it's great to say something positive "what well behaved kids", "what cute boys", "you have a beautiful family", "I have boys too - how fun!", etc.  I just think a longer speech is overlaying your own experience/memory onto theirs which may or may not be relevant to the experience they are having as a parent of younger kids.  And can actually come off as crazy cakes or just plain annoying.

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Even advice that is good advice and kindly meant can be annoying to receive unsolicited.  I think there is always an assumption of, "I think you need to hear this from me."

 

I did enjoy my three boys - everyday.  I knew the time would pass quickly and that I should cherish the era.  That doesn't mean it was easy or that I never sat on the kitchen floor and cried.  But I definitely did not need strangers to tell me that I would survive and would miss those days and should cherish them despite the difficulties.  I knew that.  It didn't irritate me, really.  I understood even then that when women with grown children approached me with advice, encouragement, the need to share their own memories, etc, they were showing their love for their children and their desire to bless me.  But I definitely preferred a simply observation of how cute my kids were to being given advice about enjoying them more.

 

 

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Yes, a "What a well behaved boy," makes my day because it means that everything I do is not in vain and is being noticed. I just don't like being told "They grow up so fast," especially by people who worked full time while their kids were in school or daycare.

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I would have been a bit startled, but I would have appreciated your words.

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Thinking about it a little more, I tend to think unsolicited edifying talks to moms of younger kids are more cathartic for the more experienced mom that just had a strong memory than helpful for one getting that message to enjoy every minute.  I think it's great to say something positive "what well behaved kids", "what cute boys", "you have a beautiful family", "I have boys too - how fun!", etc.  I just think a longer speech is overlaying your own experience/memory onto theirs which may or may not be relevant to the experience they are having as a parent of younger kids.  And can actually come off as crazy cakes or just plain annoying.

 

I was thinking this very thing, so now I can just say  :iagree: .

 

I also agree that the "enjoy every minute" advice is guilt-inducing. We already know we're supposed to be enjoying every minute, but we're not, and we don't feel great about that. It's a pet peeve of mine for sure. I don't take anyone to task for saying it, but it does cast a bit of a shadow over my day when I hear it (or read it online). 

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I did not like being told that I should cherish those early days because they'd be gone so fast. It's like telling a high school student that "these are the best years of your life." Just because your memories are appealing, that doesn't mean that every moment of the actual lived experience is cherishable.

 

On the other hand, I appreciated expressions of solidarity and praise of my children or my parenting skills. And I liked knowing that older parents were thinking of their own babies.

 

I remember spending a week at a church family camp when my son was 5 months old. I would sit in morning worship nursing him, and I would see tender, soft expressions on the faces of older people all around us. I knew they were thinking about when they had babies, and it felt really accepting and loving.

 

I guess the difference is: are you telling me what I should feel? Or are you telling/showing me what you feel?

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To turn it around, suppose a more grandma type came up to the OP and said "The teen years are so fleeting.  I hope you're taking every moment to connect with that handsome grunting teen of yours before he picks up and moves across the country."  Why do people only seem to do this to parents of young kids?  Every stage is fleeting and important.  Every stage has it's ups and downs.  Every kid is different and different parents feel different ways about various stages.  Either way, still crazy cakes.  ;)  LOL

 

I don't know, I feel like I HAVE enjoyed every stage with my kids.  I came to parenting a little older than many and I think that served me well (me personally, I'm not insinuating anything generally about younger parents).  I've also had bad days and frustrations.  That's part of parenting. 

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I guess the difference is: are you telling me what I should feel? Or are you telling/showing me what you feel?

 

:iagree: Yes, this exactly. 

 

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I used to have people do that to me all the time when all my kids were little. It rarely happens now so many of them are older.

 

We have people approach us everywhere we go. Grocery store is the most common, but restaurants, parks, the zoo... Just about anywhere at least one person comes up to say something, usually positive. It happens more often when my dh isn't around or when we only have the youngest 4 with us.

 

We have reached the point where we do very occasionally approach other younger parents. It's quite enjoyable to see them and remember our own times. And sometimes it's nice to just give them a kind word that really it's going to be okay and contrary to how they feel, not everyone watching is judging them negatively.

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I have heard people telling parents of teens too that soon the kids would be away at college while walking past cafes.

 

And sometimes it's nice to just give them a kind word that really it's going to be okay and contrary to how they feel, not everyone watching is judging them negatively.

:iagree:

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I've had a lot of people tell me to "enjoy them because it goes fast". I always smile and thank them but in my head I want to scream "I haven't slept through the night in 5 years!! You are only remember the good parts!! Back off!!"

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I guess the thing that really works and is encouraging is if you say something nice about the kids that you've noticed and is true. If someone came up to me and remarked that they were so impressed at my 5 year old waiting in line and asking for her books at the library (which I was very proud of too) then I would have appreciated it, or her kindness to her sister etc.

 

 

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I guess the thing that really works and is encouraging is if you say something nice about the kids that you've noticed and is true. If someone came up to me and remarked that they were so impressed at my 5 year old waiting in line and asking for her books at the library (which I was very proud of too) then I would have appreciated it, or her kindness to her sister etc.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I guess the thing that really works and is encouraging is if you say something nice about the kids that you've noticed and is true. If someone came up to me and remarked that they were so impressed at my 5 year old waiting in line and asking for her books at the library (which I was very proud of too) then I would have appreciated it, or her kindness to her sister etc.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I guess the thing that really works and is encouraging is if you say something nice about the kids that you've noticed and is true. If someone came up to me and remarked that they were so impressed at my 5 year old waiting in line and asking for her books at the library (which I was very proud of too) then I would have appreciated it, or her kindness to her sister etc.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I guess the thing that really works and is encouraging is if you say something nice about the kids that you've noticed and is true. If someone came up to me and remarked that they were so impressed at my 5 year old waiting in line and asking for her books at the library (which I was very proud of too) then I would have appreciated it, or her kindness to her sister etc.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I would've appreciated the "You will make it! I promise! I had 4 also, and it was hard but very worthwhile. "

 

I don't appreciate sentiments like "Enjoy them while they are little; they grow up so fast."

 

I don't handle the infant and toddler years very well, and the second bit of advice made me feel even more guilty because I didn't "love" those years. I enjoyed them as much as possible but the chaos and sleep deprivation really was hard.

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I get a lot of these types of comments because I have baby twins and two olders who are not so old. It only really bothers me when I'm feeling pretty put together and like things are going great, and someone says, "It gets better! You will survive!" I'm surviving! I'm doing fine! No, I'm doing great! Then I wonder how terrible and frazzled I must look to be getting the comments.  :laugh:

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I think it what you said to her was lovely. :001_wub:

 

One of my fondest memories was when ds11was about two years old, and we spent many hours walking around a lake, most of those with me pushing the babyjogger while he toddled beside me, picking flowers, looking at bugs, just enjoying the day and the moment. One day a lady walked by me, smiled, and told how much she missed those days when her children were little, and someday I would look back at these days and cherish them. She was so right.

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Not loony, but I'm in the South.

 

If you were inclined, a McD's gift card (enough to buy herself a cold drink) and a "You're doing a great job, hang in there" would have been meaningful to me at that stage.

Like everyone else, I thought that people who told me it would go by fast were off their rockers. Little did I know. . .

 

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I get stopped a lot by older women, usually in Walmart on weekday mornings. I only have one baby but she's happy and friendly, grinning and waving at people so I guess this makes people feel more comfortable approaching me. These women are always nostalgic for their own days with their babies. They tell me where their daughters are living and if they have grandchildren somewhere and how often they get to see them. I think sometimes you see a baby and it just takes you back to all the special sweet warm and cuddly times.

 

I wouldn't have thought you were a freak. I don't mind when people talk to me. I know some day, I'll be in their shoes. :)

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I think I'd be more annoyed than otherwise, since I already have my hands full and can't just stop to listen to you. 

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I received encouraging comments about the boys when they were little and appreciated it.  Usually, it was while I was grocery shopping during the day and had to take all of them with me.  Sometimes they frustrated me a lot because they would not behave, and some kind, older woman would say an encouraging word that reminded me how blessed I was.  So, Yes, I appreciated the kind words and thoughts.

 

I found it helped me look outside of the moment, to the bigger picture. :001_smile:

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I had a cranky first child, and I felt like every time I tried desperately to soothe her in public, some well-meaning older mom would say to me something along those lines--treasure these days,

etc. And I would want to slap her, because I could not wait for those days to be over. And now they are, and that crabby baby who was almost an only child until we realized we could adopt and skip the infant nonsense, is 17. And I STILL do not miss those days. Not one single time have I looked back and thought, "I wish they were all little again." So you might get slapped, and you might be wrong. I never got angry or thought it was weird, but all those words did was make me feel guilty for being stressed out because my infant hated me. Maybe commiseration would be more appropriate than "treasure every moment."

 

treasure these days....LMAO

 

NO I did not treasure screamy days.  Not at all. 

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I don't like the "enjoy every minute" sentiment but I don't mind a general "enjoy this time while it lasts" comment. I wish I had slowed down and enjoyed my time with my older two when they were little but I was always looking ahead to the next stage, glad when they could take care of themselves more. My 1 year old is doing that thing where she knows what she wants and is willing to scream bloody murder to get it, and frequently at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. But I really can honestly say that I don't wish her older, I enjoy her every day. She makes me laugh, she fascinates me, she's so sweet and fun and funny. I am enjoying the baby/toddler stage so much more this time around. I'm older, more mature, more patient, and pretty sure I won't screw her up too badly. :) I'm a better mom this time around. I think my older two would have been better off if I'd been older when they were born.

 

Sorry for that tangent... :)

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