As I sat in Dairy Queen tonight with my family, I chuckled at how the evening had been a series of "I'll never do that" activities. Back when I was childless or even when I only had one very mellow baby in diapers, I knew I'd never be the kind of mom who bribed her children with ice cream. I knew I'd never let the television become a babysitter. I'd never order pizza as a cop-out for dinner preparation. And I'd never let my kids leave the house with scraggly clothes and/or hair. Did I do one of those things tonight? Nope. I did them ALL. Maybe that makes me a bad mom/wife/homemaker, but I don't really care.
Back in the days of sleeping in, doing whatever I wanted on the weekends, and having a beautifully flat and wrinkle-free stomach, I was naive about more than the nuances of raising rowdy boys. I didn't understand the flip side, either. I never knew how a gummy grin could melt my heart, or how the words, "You're a professional mom" would make me feel like I'd won a gold medal. I never knew the joy that would come when my three-year-old asked me to tell him scripture stories or when he sang, "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" at the top of his lungs on the way home from church. I know that years from now I'll definitely remember the rough grocery runs with three kids in tow, but I hope I also remember the sweet and happy moments, too. People often tell me to enjoy these early years with my kids -- that they are quickly gone, never to return. I find myself rolling my eyes at these comments because on most days I can't imagine parenting getting much harder than it is right now. At the same time, though, I know that those seasoned moms are probably right. In six more years I'll be older and wiser and dealing with issues of far greater importance than out-of-control roughhousing or wearing holey jeans to kindergarten. When I look back at this day will I smile because I miss this stage or because I'm so glad I don't have to go back? Probably a mixture of both.