What I know now

Some friends of ours are expecting their first child in a couple weeks. Suckers.

Yes, I've told them quite a few times these past several months to 'enjoy this time,' that it's going to fly. That crazy, chaotic and tiresome yet awesomely rewarding thing called parenthood is just around the corner.

I am trying to recall what it was like back then, before kids. I think I smelled better, for sure.
It's been over seven years since I became a mother, but I remember like yesterday the anticipation I felt about what was to come. I thought about what I'd tell myself if I could go back... about what I know now.

Family beach pics these days - nobody looking, mismatch outfits and scrinchy faces
I wish I would have enjoyed more nights out, those "leave on a moment's notice" nights for a drink or a movie out. It would be awesome to go out at 7 p.m. for a drink and not worry about babysitters, bathtimes, temper tantrums and bedtimes in an hour. I'd love to go back to the times where I could stay out late, drink too many amaretto sours and then take a good nap the next day. Nap. Something I definitely would have done more.

I wish I would have been a regular at some coffee shop. Too many mornings I'm longing to hit Panera for a mocha or just browse a bookstore for hours without having to tote any screamie meamies along. You can't imagine the mess we leave at the floor of any restaurant we dine in (we may get banned from Skyline Chili soon). I want to be someone who strolls up to the counter and they immediately say, "mocha frapp easy on the whip" comin' right up!

Sometimes I wish I was driving any of my pre-children cars - those nice, clean cars. After college I had a little, red Nissan 240SX I'd tear around town in (now I just tear around town in a grey minivan) with spotless leather seats - clean and milk-stain free, no booger Kleenexes in the cupholders and you couldn't find a stray Cheerio or Fruit Loop stuck in the floorboards either.

I would have taken at least one more long trip somewhere. How easy it was back in those days to be able to pick up and go on a weekend trip and just pack a bathing suit, sunglasses and a book. I would rock some serious Victoria's Secret bikinis with a pre-baby body if given the chance again. And oh the heavenly plane ride to anywhere, sans poopy diapers and screams upon takeoff!

Ok, all those times were great, and I can always reminisce about those days (unless I get Alzheimers, which would really suck). But the thing is, none of it could ever amount to the time I have and the treasure I have in being a mother to four perfect little people right now. Because these days, drinking late and having a morning headache definitely doesn't beat watching Fox and the Hound on the couch in jammies with four freshly-shampooed heads under my nose.

Although each night I'm exhausted to the core by 8 p.m., just hearing a 4-year-old's rendition of "Let It Go" in the bathtub or reading "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" for the millionth time brings more warmth than climbing under my covers and getting to bed an hour earlier. Going to Panera with the twins and having countless people comment to me on what beautiful little brown-eyed girls I've got sitting next to me with cookie on their face makes me infinitely more content than any day spent alone and unnoticed in a cafe booth.

And when Brayden's soccer ball is rolling around the minivan floor (over stale Fruit Loops, spilled juice stains and broken McDonalds Happy Meal toys) it's actually a poignant reminder that I've got an amazingly talented little athlete in the back seat who will soon be grown and driving his own car around to soccer practice and games -- leaving me home quicker than I can blink.
No doubt those much-needed date nights and (sparse) weekend vacations with just Matthew and I are wonderful, but that doesn't mean our vacations with the kids are any less priceless. Building sandcastles and digging a hole in the sand or collecting seashells with four giggling, happy kids is a lot more fun than reading a book behind some oversized sunglasses (wait, I don't think I mean that).

I won't ever get that time back, before kids, but I also won't get THIS time back -- the beautiful, crazy here-and-now time with my little ones. So to my expectant friends (and to those who haven't yet decided on kids yet), I do still advise you to enjoy this "pre-kid" time, but also, look forward to the awesome future full of children and what they bring -- fun, surprises, messes, heartache, exhaustion, satisfaction, happiness and pure love. You can at least hope one of the kids will take care of you when you are the one in diapers.


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