“Enjoy this time with your baby, it will fly by.”

Oh, I did not just say that — but I did.

“Enjoy this time with your baby, it will fly by.”

Oh, I did not just say that — but I did.

I watched a first-time mom holding a sweaty and squirmy baby in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I remember those days when all I wanted was to sit and enjoy a magazine or close my eyes for some peace and quiet, while the baby just wanted the freedom to crawl around the room and eat things off the floor.

So, neither of us were happy.

Now all I see, watching that situation from afar, is a sweet baby in the arms of his mother when my own two boys can no longer fit in the crevices of my elbow. It’s easy for me to forget the frustration that mother is feeling, and it’s just as easy for her to momentarily forget that thing in her arms resembling a distressed octopus is her biggest blessing.

Honestly it drove me nuts when grandmas or people whose kids were grown used to tell me that. It wasn’t because deep down I didn’t know it was true, but sometimes parenting is the most miserable job out there.

Sure, we love our kids, but physically, mentally, and emotionally, these little people can squeeze the life right out of you — from the moment they are born. One of the greatest challenges of parenting is understanding how miraculous it is even while dragging him out of Walmart while screaming that he wants to go home with the lady we met in checkout line because she is a nicer mommy than me (and that’s because she bought her kid a Star Wars Pez dispenser).

And it was always that exact moment when a grandma would tap me on the shoulder and tell me to cherish that ungrateful kid who I couldn’t wait to bind up into a car seat.

Cherish this? I just wanted hide somewhere and preferably with chocolate.

Now Connor is ten and almost meets me at eye level, and Logan at seven has been hard to pick up for several years. Time hit me in the face like a brick; those grandmas were right. I had no idea it would happen so fast, even though I was warned about it.

They are growing up and our family is complete.

Due to a cancer scare almost two years ago, I underwent a hysterectomy — removing any chance of another pregnancy.

It is strange, but not disappointing, to know that the family I dreamed of my whole life has been fully realized. All those years of daydreaming about marriage and motherhood, and now I know. It is more than I ever asked for.

Parenting has changed my perspective on almost everything, because I thought it was kind of a by-the-book process, and now I know parents are just people doing the best they can with what they have been given.

Where a screaming toddler flops, there my heart will be. Be it the aisles of Walmart or the restaurant I went to for quiet time, I will always have an unspoken bond with that mom.

I know the look in the eyes of a mommy who is ready to give up, and I also know she never will.

Real love is messy and beautiful, and God reminds us of that through explosive diapers. He got His hands dirty when He created us, and parenting is our turn to do the same.

So, love the good times, embrace the bad ones, and hold your nose and stick it out through the worst ones.

Another thing I have gained, which is not to be forgotten, is a new chapter. Sooner than I want to think, my kids will be going off to college — but not yet.

My boys aren’t fully grown, they are just bigger.

Moments after I told that frustrated mom to cherish her baby, my own kid plopped down beside me totally barefoot in a doctor’s office.

“Logan where are your shoes?”

“Oh, I left them in the car. I didn’t think I needed them.”

Drawing in a breath, I looked up and met eyes with a smiling, older couple. I held up my hand.

“Don’t say it. I already know.”