Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

Please Stop Telling Me To Enjoy My Daughter "While I Can"

Ad failed to load

Babies can cause a tidal wave of nostalgia in parents of older children. This was certainly the case when my daughter Luna was born last December. It didn't take long before my teary-eyed mom began recounting tales from when my brother and I were small. Shortly thereafter, aunts and uncles sent Facebook messages that reaffirmed just how special raising a baby and toddler can be, as opposed to a "difficult" teen. In the nine months since, I've been told time and time again to enjoy them while they're young. "My favorite age," a random relative will announce to you, "is when they're 2."

According to friends, loved ones, and plenty of surveys, the best years of parenthood are those when our kids are little. In this first decade of life, children depend on us to clothe them and feed them and comfort them; we are needed, and cuddles abound. Then those kids start growing up, wanting to spend more time with their friends. They get into video games, or lacrosse, or hipster ax-throwing. They date, they move out, they go to college, and they eventually become independent (at least, most of the time). They don't need us in the same ways anymore — and, as a result, we can no longer "enjoy" them.

I know my daughter is only 9 months old, but this isn't a narrative that I want to buy into. Sure, Luna will only need me to this degree for a limited time. We will only be snuggled-up for so long. I just don't believe that having a child has to grow progressively less special as a result.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

A couple of months ago, my partner and I visited his uncle and younger cousins — two girls ages 17 and 14. Luna was only about five months old at the time, but I already couldn't believe how much more fun being with her was as compared to her first dozen weeks on the planet. She could smile and laugh. She was beginning to recognize faces and show sweet little signs of affection. She wasn't a screaming blob, with no capacity for emotion outside of anger or discomfort. She was starting to become a little girl.

"Honestly, it just keeps getting better and better," my uncle-in-law told me as I mentioned the comments I had received. "They start developing personalities, holding conversations. You learn from them just as much as they learn from you. It's just fantastic."

Ad failed to load

This was the first time anyone had said such a thing to me. "You're even enjoying the 'moody teen' phase?" I asked him.

He laughed, admitting that he was definitely enjoying their adolescence. Any moodiness came in waves, and he was grateful to be able to share with them the things he wish he'd known when he was that age. He was fascinated by how much his daughters changed year to year, and sometimes week to week. It was hard sometimes, he noted, but it was always interesting. It was always fun, regardless of temporary frustrations.

Ad failed to load

Sure, some kids and teens go through parent-hating rebellions, after all. As their personalities develop and they begin the process of creating an ego that exists separate from their parents, their beliefs can cause a schism between those of their parents. Once children can talk, they can talk back. They can fight and complain and be rude and cruel.

Thinking back to my own early adolescence, I remember being overwhelmed by the feeling that my parents didn't really want to be around me anymore.

This may be true, but thinking back to my own early adolescence, I remember being overwhelmed by the feeling that my parents didn't really want to be around me anymore. My mom and dad were divorced. The only thing they seemed to agree on was how much they missed me being a baby. When I spoke to my partner about this, he admitted to having experienced those same feelings around 10 years old. We both drifted from our parents around that time, possibly as a result.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

The thing is, I never want my daughter to feel as though she isn't enough. I don't want her to reach age 10 or 11 or 12, and suddenly feel as though her father and I are in mourning for the baby and toddler she once was. I don't want her to wonder whether we loved her more when she couldn't speak, or cultivate a fear of growing up and living her life in case we feel abandoned or neglected. I just want her to allow herself to be who she is.

In turn, I want her father and I to be able to enjoy every stage of her life. I'm actually looking forward to not having to do every little thing for her. I cannot wait until she starts telling me things that I do not know. Whether it's a story about her day at school, a shape she's spotted in the clouds, or what political candidate she's supporting, I'm looking forward to learning from her. I'm looking forward to getting to know the person we've made.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Marie Southard Ospina

Since that conversation with my uncle-in-law, I've discovered new things about my daughter, like the fact that she loves music. She shakes her head from side-to-side and wiggles her bottom whenever a tune comes on. She laughs herself to sleep at night. She can play peekaboo and reach out for us.

I don't doubt that some things will get more difficult when she gets older. As she moves out and away from us, it might be harder to hold her close, or to carry her in my arms, or find that we agree about everything. But I want her to grow, learn, and live, and I want her to know that my favorite age is whatever age I find her at.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack