As a college coach’s wife, I’ve witnessed a lot of moms watching their “littles” venture out on their own. Whether it was their first, their last, or one in between, all the parents repeated those familiar phrases:
“You’ll miss these days.”
“That age was my favorite.”
“What I wouldn’t trade for the early morning wake ups and temper tantrums, instead of the constant worrying, wondering and hoping for a random text to know that they are still alive.”
Eventually, so many parents repeated the same cliché phrases that during the toughest moments in raising babies, I had to pause and think maybe I was missing something.
I would always wonder if it was maybe because they didn’t experience it as I did.
It wasn’t just tantrums, blowouts, nap times and keeping an overly cautious eye until they got their footing. It was moving and starting over again and again, and the difficulty that led to not having a support system.
It was having to always say no when we were invited somewhere or to something, because I couldn’t get a babysitter or coach was away recruiting or it was at the exact same time as the game.
Were they able to "miss this stage” because it wasn’t solely resting upon them to take care of all the feedings, the tantrums, the diapers, the tears, the cuddles, the bedtimes, the laundry, etc?
Did they have a stretch where one (or all) of their babies refused to go to daddy because they weren’t used to him being around or he didn’t know that “that’s not how mommy does it”?
I wasn’t sure I’d miss having to distract them when daddy was gone for days at a time. Or console them because daddy just forgot something, but they thought he was home to stay.
Always being the one that had to help them through the emotional rollercoaster during the season was beyond the limits of possibilities, especially when I couldn’t managing it for myself.
There were seasons where I’d only go to the second half because that was all I could manage. And I didn’t even attempt to go to close away games because there was nothing easy about it with three kids under five.
There were seasons I missed entire games due to early bedtimes and not being able to afford or deal with the hassle of finding a babysitter.
Now that I’m on the other side and have only my youngest needing extra help on occasion, I can see how parents forget the hard parts.
Currently, I only recall my daughter learning to sound words out from trying to say names off the roster list and how to count by keeping the stats during each quarter. I remember my son learning history and geography from all the different states and schools we visited during away games.
I can still picture their little faces filled with excitement when I’d tell them that we could have a quick dinner with daddy at the field house. I can still see their little legs trying to get their bodies to daddy as fast as possible after an amazing win or their small arms squeezing him tight around his neck after a heartbreaking loss.
It seems like an eternity right now, but they will one day not cry when coach is actually around. They will go to him when he walks through the door, instead of clinging to you.
You will be able to watch and enjoy an entire game without having to worry about your kid’s safety or what they might say or do to embarrass you.
You won’t always need a bag filled with endless snacks, packets of wet wipes, and brand new toys to keep them occupied.
I know it’s no consolation to hear any of this when you’re knee deep in tantrums, nap times, blowouts, feedings, dishes, and infinite laundry.
But rest in the reassurance that another cliche is true—the days are long, but the years are short.
Before you know it, you’ll come out of the baby/toddler/preschool haze and your little won’t be so little anymore.
He’ll be starting school and picking friends over both you and coach.
She will care more about a sleep over or going to watch her boyfriend play than what the score of daddy’s game was.
You might not miss it, but you may in fact look back and wish these days hadn't gone by so fast.