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Life after Cheerios and lullabies

I have entered a new stage of parenthood. As much as I hate to admit it, I have left behind the days of sweet-smelling babies, Cheerio-strewn backseats, and endless repeats of “Wheels on the Bus.”

The sweet smell of the newborn has been replaced by the unmistakable smell of little boys who have baked too long in the playground sun, the car is now strewn with forgotten school papers and art projects, and piano scales repeat endlessly instead of favorite lullabies. I gaze upon my rapidly sprouting little boys with amazement, wondering how we got here and why it has gone so fast.

But while I cling to those precious old memories ferociously, how I love the changes, the glimpses of maturity that come with this new stage of childhood. They used to collapse in tears a hundred times a day over a lost toy, a dropped cookie, a skinned knee. Yet now the tears are more quietly hidden, often in the safety of their beds as the day comes to a close. And what a privilege I have as a mom to teach important life lessons during these vulnerable times. To comfort the hearts bruised by missed soccer goals, unfinished math tests, poor behavior choices.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”—Maya Angelou

The tough little boy exterior fades under those bedtime blankets as they whisper the depths of their little boy hearts in the dark. Harsh words spoken carelessly by adults, hurt feelings that come with the everyday banter of children. We learn big life lessons about how to treat each other and how to survive.

“Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.”—Author Unknown

In the darkness of the night we talk about the big and the little—from the awesomeness of a great big God to the littleness of our weekend plans. Giggles are shared as tales of the day are recounted in great detail and new jokes are told and told again. We talk, and we listen. But most importantly, we talk about new beginnings and fresh starts and the promise of a new day.

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I cherish these precious moments, but even as I lie under the blankets with my boys, I am keenly aware that this, too, shall pass, more quickly than I can comprehend. So I lie in the dark and soak it in, hoping and praying that these moments are just paving the way for the harder times when they no longer run to mommy with every tear and joy. Hoping our little talks become big life lessons that will see them through.

“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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About Dr. Kristie Rivers, Bundoo Pediatrician

Dr. Kristie Rivers is an Attending Physician, Assistant Medical Director of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program, and Director of Pediatric Medical Education at a children’s hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She cares for hospitalized children and also teaches pediatric residents and medical students.

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