Most days the Timehop app brings a smile to my face and an “I remember THAT!” thought to my mind. Today it brought a sad smile and a sizable sigh.

Four years ago today, I wrote this.

Reading it again today, for likely the first time since I wrote it, was a little painful. As I read my own words, I remembered the way I felt. And I remembered the pure unpleasantness of it all.

Enough time has passed now, and Eileen and I sometimes joke about those days. We barely knew each other except for the (almost) daily awkwardness,  silently passing each other in the hallway at daycare, avoiding eye contact. My kid was the biter, and hers was one of his favorite kids to bite. This is the genesis of their friendship.

Optimistically, I titled the post “This too shall pass.” And in the spirit of growth and change and learning and sad (but loving, hopeful) smiles, I have two pieces of advice for you.

1. Enjoy the mess.

Life is A MESS. It’s a beautiful mess — certainly — but A MESS. If you are waiting for life to start comin’ at ya nice and neat and single-file, you’re in for disappointment. And this isn’t just parenthood, you guys. Single life is a mess, married life is a mess, parenthood is a mess, and I’m counting on retired, empty-nesting, forgetting-what-day-of-the-week-it-is life to be a big glorious mess, too. Sometimes your kid is beautiful and healthy and smart and funny, but he bites every kid at daycare and earns himself a reputation that makes you sad. And if it’s not that — it’s something else. Every kid, every family, every soul — you are living a tricky, trying, beautiful mess.

Enjoy the mess, friends. The mess is real.

2. Appreciate how far you’ve come.

When you take life one day at a time, it’s difficult to see progress. One day you have a two year old with a severe speech delay who bites in a desperate attempt to communicate, and the next day you have a thriving six year old who uses adverbs correctly and explains the use of Wi-Fi hotspots to his grandparents. And that didn’t happen in four years. It happened every single day. Tiny steps I didn’t even notice.

Use photos, use words, use a silly iPhone app — but find a way to capture time, and lessons, and growth. And then give yourself a big hug — and indulge in a sad smile if it helps — but don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come.

my mess | April 2011
my mess | April 2011

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