The Simple Quote That Changed My Outlook On Parenting

I recently stumbled upon a quote that makes me sad and happy and inspired all at the same time. I can’t look at it without tearing up and the message has stayed with me every day since I first laid eyes on it:

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

I was skimming Arianna Huffington’s new book "Thrive" and this quote was in her introduction. Heard of it? I hadn’t. It’s by Dr. Seuss, the king of awesome musings on life (ones that rhyme and use made-up words, of course). I read it and then reread it a dozen times. I had a visceral reaction. I pasted it into an email to my two sisters and texted it to my husband. We have three young children (ages six, four and five months) and while the daily grind can be rough and endless-seeming at times, life is literally flying by. I cherish it, I do, but a reminder is always good.

I’ve been through some perspective-altering stuff in my 36 years (my older sister and I were both diagnosed with serious blood cancers in our 20s — that’s us in the photo above, circa 1981), so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what’s important in life. I feel so lucky to have any kids at all, let alone three. But when things get hectic and hard, I sometimes have a tough time staying in the present and appreciating where I am, however messy that place may be. When you have kids, that all-important mindfulness can easily be eclipsed by the drop-everything to-dos. In other words, it can be hard to smell the roses over the stench of dirty diapers and sweaty soccer socks. I’m just saying.

Older mothers (including my own) constantly tell young moms to enjoy our children while they’re young, that it goes so fast. I get it, I believe it, but I also know that days can be rough and sometimes you just want them to end. Nothing has quite gotten through to me like this little passage. Maybe it’s because I adore Dr. Seuss. Maybe it’s because I’m officially done having kids and it’s sinking in that all of Molly’s firsts are my lasts. Maybe it’s because my dad is turning 70 today and we’re all a bit shocked and nostalgic and he swears it happened in the blink of an eye. Maybe it’s because I’ve become obsessed with Throwback Thursday. Whatever it is, I’m a believer. The quote may feel a little depressing to some, but I find it thought-provoking and inspiring.

I’m not saying these 34 words have magically turned me into a calm, collected, always-present mother (that ship sailed long ago) but I have thought about the quote a lot and it’s helped me manage some of the more intense spots lately (like helping my first grader slog through an astronomy project he had exactly zero interest in completing) and slow down to savor the good ones. The other night, my daughter asked if I would stay in her room after bedtime. We had already read books and talked so normally I would say no, give her one last kiss and leave. I had a lot of to-dos waiting for me downstairs but I took five minutes to lie with her. I sang her the song my Grandma Del used to sing to me (My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean) and thought about how strange it is that she’s no longer here and how I miss her and how, toward the end of her life, she used to say she couldn’t believe how she got so old. I remembered being a little girl sleeping at her house and waking up to the sound of eggs being whisked with a fork in a glass bowl and drinking milk that was so cold it had little ice slivers floating in it.

And though it was a lifetime ago, for a minute it felt like yesterday. The memory made me happy and sad and brought tears to my eyes. My goodness how the time has flewn. And I cherished the moment and will continue to cherish as much as I can because I feel so lucky to be right here right now. I know in the blink of an eye my babies will be grown and I'll be wondering…how did it get so late so soon?