By Amy Hackworth. Image by Justin Hackworth.

When our boys were tiny and so much work, I internally rolled my eyes when well-meaning friends (and plenty of strangers) told me that these hectic baby days would go by fast. Fast? It was the most ridiculous thing my sleep-deprived self could imagine.

Just this weekend I, forgetting the uselessness of such an assurance, and unable to resist the urge to give the advice now that I understand it, assured—or maybe warned—a mother with two tiny ones how quickly it really does go by. I can’t believe I said it. But now I know it’s true.

Years ago, I could never have imagined this, but many a morning the boys are up before I am, and they play, safe and happy, while I take leave of dreamland at my own pace rather than at the abrupt demand of their call or cry. When we leave the house, they put on their own shoes, get their very own coats, and buckle themselves in the car. They get dressed on their own. (Although I’m not going to lie, I have to remind them to put on clean underwear more often than I’d like. But still. They can do it.)

Obviously, this independence is welcome, but not without some backward longing for days when they could both share my lap with ease, when I could playfully munch on their chubby cheeks, when they finally gave in to sleep and their tiny heads drooped helplessly against my shoulder. These sorts of pangs made me love Bethany Meyer’s beautiful post about the moment her 11-year-old-son invites her to stop singing their song to him at bedtime. I admire the composure and grace with which she acquiesces. And I ache with her as she sings to him anyway in his sleep.

“Enjoy these moments,” well-meaning moms warned, and I rolled my eyes. But now that I see, as Gretchen Rubin wisely summarizes, the days are long and the years are short, I am a little more careful to appreciate this stage of motherhood, because it, too, will find its way to a memory.

P.S. — I loved reading about your favorite lullabies. For another achingly beautiful ode to growing children, enjoy Mary Karr’s brilliant poem, “A Blessing from My Sixteen Years’ Son.”