I’m pretty obsessed with fall… like just shy of pumpkin-spice-latte-deodorant-wearing obsessed (and yes, that’s a thing). Sandwiched in between the long stretch of sweatiness and mosquitoes and the cabin fever-inducing frigid weather, we get this little window of perfection. Crisp morning air gives way to pleasant afternoons. We bust out the sweaters and drink apple cider and everything is magical.
The real object of my obsession is the changing color of the fall leaves. I’m a full-fledged leaf stalker. I’m always seeking that moment of optimal viewing, when most of the trees have turned but before the early changers have dropped all their leaves. I stress about whether a lack of rainfall will mute the fall colors, and check foliage tracking websites for leaf peak forecasts (nerd alert, amirite?)
Fall is an in-your-face reminder of how quickly the beautiful things in life can slip away. I took a picture last year of this gorgeous tree – a vibrant yellow that just glowed brilliantly when the sun lit it from behind. I passed it a week later and the tree was virtually bare.
Watching the transition from trees exploding with fiery color to streets littered with crunching leaves practically forces you to focus on everything awesome and fleeting about this season of life. Fall has been giving me the kick in the a** I needed to start following my own advice to be in a mindset of gratitude, which has been a struggle sometimes with two kids under five.
It’s not a perfect metaphor, though. The seasons cycle. If I don’t consume enough pumpkin-spice lattes or spend enough time frolicking in an apple orchard, I’ll get another chance next year. But this period with my kids being small will not cycle back around. When it’s over, there are no do-overs.
So I’m making the conscious choice to be more mindful of everything I’ll miss when my kids are older.
One day in the not-too-distant future, my son will be able to cross the street without me. But for now, he reaches up instinctively and puts his little hand in mine. It’s sweet and cute and I’ll miss it when holding hands gets weird.
Some nights we (mostly) jokingly ask our kids if they can just put themselves to bed. But one day they will, and there will be no bath-time sing-alongs or soap sud silliness. They will not sit on my lap listening to the antics of Duck and Goose. I’ll try to embrace the nightly ritual instead of viewing it as a chore to get through. (But not brushing my kids’ teeth, which I’ll never miss because it’s terrible).
There is nothing like the boundless excitement of little kids. We recently bought a new dishwasher. My son was *fascinated* with the whole installation process – the tools, the water being shut off, watching the old dishwasher being pulled out. He was jumping for joy. Literally jumping up and down. I will miss my kids’ unbridled enthusiasm.
On the (thankfully now rare) times my daughter wakes up screaming during the night, being held against my chest is all she needs to be instantly calmed. It’s a pretty amazing thing. I did not feel this way when she woke up screaming multiple times a night. But now I snuggle her a little longer than I need to and do all that cheesy stuff like breathe in her smell and feel the warmth of her little body against mine.
Making my kids happy won’t always be as easy as stopping at a playground on the way home. They can easily spend an hour throwing rocks in the creek. Here’s to the pure, simple joy of backyard bubbles and making wishes on dandelions.
Right now all my kids want is my time and attention. Mama yook at dis! Mama, you haaaave to see dis. Mama, YOOK AT DIS. When it’s the 473rd time my son has pushed the wooden train off the bridge, I’m frankly ready to beat my head against the wall instead of yooking again. But I yook. Because it means the world to him that I do. At some point (teenage years, I’m looking at you), my time and attention will probably be the last thing he wants, so I’ll try to enjoy this while I can.
This is not an exhaustive list. But I’m going to keep watching, keep noticing. I’m going to *try* to stay focused on the good stuff before it’s gone… and drink lots and lots of pumpkin-spice lattes.