The Curse of “I Can’t Wait”

Photo by Laurie Wilson Photography.

I’m laying in bed at 4:30am when a paw scratches across my face. Our eight-month-old puppy is jumping all over the place – ready to play and needing to go out. But I’m tired. And it’s early. So the first thing that pops in my head is “I can’t wait until she starts sleeping a little bit later.”

It then occurs to me that I haven’t had an “I can’t wait…” moment like this with my four-year-old twins in a REALLY long time. At least not in a “can we skip this stage?” kind of way because, let’s be honest, some stages are just really hard. But I used to.

There used to be a long list:

I can’t wait until they sleep through the night.

I can’t wait to be done with bottles.

I can’t wait until they can smile back at me.

I can’t wait until they can tell me what is wrong.

I can’t wait until they can walk.

I can’t wait until they can dress themselves.

I can’t wait until they can take a joke.

I can’t wait until they stop fighting.

I can’t wait until they are old enough to do…

Do you know what every one of those sentences starts with? The word “I.” And while I was busy worrying about what I wanted out of this whole parenting thing, my kids grew up on me.

One of the things Olivia loves most in this world is for me to tell them the story of the day they entered this world. The last time I told her the story, I started telling her about when she was placed in my arms for the very first time. She simply asked, “Did you love me then?” and my eyes welled up with tears. I told her that I loved her instantly more than I ever knew I could love someone. I think every time I tell this story it makes me a little emotional, thinking about all the things I can never get back with these two kids who stole our hearts immediately.

Tonight Oliver had a bellyache and all he wanted me to do was hold him. It was getting later in the evening, so I told him that I thought the best thing that could happen was for him to go to sleep and see how he felt in the morning. He looked up at me with his sweet little eyes and said, “the best thing is sitting here with you mommy.” And he was totally right. Because I can’t remember the last time before this that he stopped running or playing baseball long enough for me to sit and hold him.

Photo by Laurie Wilson Photography.

And the thing is, I don’t want to look back and have a long list of “I wishes…” either.

I wish I had sat down and colored every time they asked me to.

I wish I had stopped worrying about the work that needs to be done.

Today I’m deciding to throw both of the “I can’t waits” and the “I wish I hads” out the window. They don’t belong in my children’s childhoods.

And frankly, they just feel kind of sad and my kids are amazing. Seriously, they’re kind of the best things ever. And all I want is all that most other moms want too – the chance to freeze time and keep them little for as long as possible. The age of four is pure gold, but come October they’ll turn five and we’ll say goodbye to another year. They’ll get better at math and they’ll blow me away with their drawings. They’ll learn to tie their shoes and cross the monkey bars. They’ll swim without floaties and learn to write their last name.

But the truth is – I can wait.

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