At the end of my run yesterday, the Darius Rucker song “It Won’t Be like This for Long” came on. It’s such a poignant song about parents dealing with the stages of childhood and recognizing how fast and fleeting they are. The verse about the preschooler being dropped off at school and crying for their parent reminded me of how intense that season of life was for Sienna and me.
When she moved from the baby room to the toddler room at Grace Lutheran Preschool, one of the teachers started greeting me at the door and taking Sienna from me. This became our routine. From the time Sienna was 18 months to 2 ½ years old, I’d hand her directly to Ms. Laurie and we avoided any tears or separation anxiety. All was well until Sienna moved up to the next class. The amazing and lovely Ms. Laura gently explained to me one day that Sienna needed to walk onto the playground and join the group, just like all the other kids. I don’t recall it being that traumatic for Sienna, but it sure was for me! Of course the teacher was right and Sienna was ready to make this developmental step, but it felt like the end of an era. She wasn’t a baby anymore.
Pondering these memories, I went into Sienna’s room as she was waking up. Glancing around the room, I suddenly thought: “Each stage is so fleeting. Soak in where she is right now.” As I sat down to stretch, Sienna’s dolls brushed against my leg. She had them all setup in a classroom setting, as she’s been teaching her dolls history, grammar, and math. They looked so cute with their full sized books propped up in front of them!
Sienna will be 13 in less than 2 months! She’s in a season of transition, which is glaringly obvious when she rolls her eyes and gives one word answers to my questions. But, she’s still my delightfully fun and silly girl much of the time. I love that she and her friends are still into their dolls – mostly the American Girl types – but it’s quite obvious that this stage will come to an end soon. She’s now taking more time to get ready in the morning as she selects her jewelry and fixes her hair. The days of dolls and playing school won’t last forever.
I think most parents can relate to thinking that the current challenge, stage or season in life is never going to change. It’s why we worry about habits like thumb sucking and obsess about getting babies to sleep through the night. Later, when a particular childhood friendship is an issue or nighttime fear causes kids to run into your bed, the situations feel so consuming. But, these phases and stages pass quickly. It’s easy to start wishing your child was onto the next stage, especially when the current one is difficult.
When we’re struggling with the challenges of parenthood, it is comforting to remember that “it won’t be like this for long”. But, in that moment, it’s also heart wrenching to remember that a childhood passes quickly. In that light, knowing that “it won’t be like this for long” helps us to stop and appreciate the stages and phases right now.
I love how song lyrics pull at your heart strings and capture a feeling so beautifully:
But right now she’s up and crying
And the truth is that he don’t mind
As he kisses her good night
And she says her prayers
He lays down there beside her
Till her eyes are finally closed
And just watching her it breaks his heart
Cause he already knows
It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah this phase is gonna fly by
He’s trying to hold on
It won’t be like this for long