I cry every time I hear the song “You’re Gonna Miss This.” If you are unfamiliar with the song, it’s about a woman at different stages in her life talking about how she can’t wait for the next step (graduating high school, moving into a bigger house, and her kids growing out of the pull-your-hair-out stage). At each stage, an older character sings this refrain to her:
You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.
It’s a country song, but I challenge even a mom who can’t stand country music to not feel sentimental listening to it.
When you have small kids, people are always telling you to cherish the moments with them. They always say you’ll miss this time. Hearing that is hard. For one thing, it makes me feel guilty for not squeezing the most out of every moment. I work from home and can’t spend all day pushing my kids on the swing and playing hide and seek, but those well-meaning warnings from people and the lyrics of that song are always in the back of my head when I choose to work at the computer or finish that chore instead of spending time with my kids. I love them fiercely so to hear how much I will miss this time with them breaks my heart. It weighs heavily on my mind.
Then I had a realization.
Last week, my husband and I started watching the British version of The Office for the first time in more than a decade. Watching the pilot episode, I was overwhelmed with a wave of nostalgia. The last time I watched that series I was around 24 or 25, I guess. I was at a really happy place in my life. I was young. I had few responsibilities. My weekends were spent sleeping in, going to bottomless brunches with fabulous girlfriends, and exploring my life New York City. It was a great life; however at the time I was wishing for more. I didn’t have a nice house. I was living in a fourth floor walk-up, studio apartment. I didn’t have a boyfriend and was wondering if I would ever fall in love and have children. I didn’t have a job I loved. I was, like the girl in the song, anxious for the next step. That phase of my life passed. Thinking about it when we watched The Office, I realized that, while I miss that time, I don’t feel sorrow thinking about it. I feel happy. It was an amazing time, but I wouldn’t trade my life now to go back to it. Hopefully that’s how I will look back on my life in twenty years when I think about my babies.
My mom once said how she misses all the people my siblings and I used to be growing up. She misses the babies, the toddlers, the little kids, the big kids, and – yes, maybe even the pre-teens and teens we were before we became grown-ups. I already feel this sentiment. My two-year-old is so much different that her one-year-old self. My five-year-old has changed immensely over the years. Right now imagining never snuggling with their two-year-old and five-year-old selves crushes me. It feels like an aching loss because they are my world. But I wouldn’t trade them for their younger versions. I shouldn’t mourn the past stages; I should focus on how much I’ll gain knowing the people they become.
Yes, I will miss this time, but I hope I’ll look back on it with happiness not sorrow. I will just have to make that quote by Dr. Seuss my new mantra, “Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”