Sentimentality is killing me.
It’s the whimsy piano theme that plays while children skip through sun-dappled fields in neutral tones. Little bows bounce on the ends of braids, and little grubby palms cup a frog. You know the reels, “They are only little for four years.” Stop. You are literally killing me—for like a billion reasons. Here are a few—off the top of my head.
Is the reel sweet? Yes. Is childhood fleeting? For sure. Is every single mom aware of it, and whenever you share those memes you are somewhere committing emotional terrorism? I would argue yes. Some unsuspecting soul is trying to casually escape emails, opens Instagram, and wham! ‘Your kids are aging, the best years are ending, and if you aren’t hugging them right this instant, you’ll regret it!’
I can’t do it. I can’t get the Smallwoods frames every year. I can’t clip little blond tendrils and store them in envelopes. The closets with onesies, tiny shoes, and hospital blankets are suffocating me in a heavy cloud of memories. Because I love them so much, it is debilitating.
And I love the memories—each is etched on my heart. The shape of tiny fingernails, the soft sounds my daughter made when she was first chewing, the way she smells after swim lessons, and the shadows darken her face when she hurts. These things are woven into my very cells.
But I cannot be reminded of how incredibly dear they are constantly. It will, and often feels like it is, killing me. If I know nothing else in this world—it is exactly how precious my kids are to me. I cannot spend every moment bottling up and wistfully preserving because I won’t breathe it in. I cannot spend time collecting, reflecting, and filling suitcases with these moments because I will miss the magic that every new day whispers. I know this is my self-preservation.
I struggled hard with postpartum depression after my firstborn. It was going too fast. My baby was a week old, a month old; I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t gobble it all up. I was sick. But I wish I could tell that 33-year-old kid how incredible it gets—what an incredible 4-year-old that baby becomes. How much more there is to watch. My sister nodded sympathetically when I cried to her while holding my tiny ONE WEEK old baby about how fast it was going. She told me sometimes she felt like having kids was like holding sand while it slips through your fingers. But the tighter you squeeze, the more it rushes out, and you are left with fingernail prints in your palm and a clenched fist. But if you hold your hand open, you can watch it leave your hand and trickle into something wonderful, something it was always meant to become.