My one-year-old is going through a phase in which she’s essentially competing with my shadow. The second she’s left alone with someone who’s not yours truly, all hell breaks loose. It’s a curiously beautiful thing about kids – their craving for mom no matter how dreadful our mood or appearance may be. I occasionally catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror on particularly disorderly days, looking like I was just hit by a bus and then told by the driver to walk home. Nevertheless, Mia can’t get enough of me and it’s becoming more and more of a nuisance as the stage drags on. I’m not ungrateful. Who doesn’t love to be wanted, needed and yearned for? But when the simple sight of the babysitter or me grabbing my keys sends her into hysterics at the realization that I’m about to leave, the trauma is more than I care to deal with.

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Driving home after a few errands the other night, I texted my husband to let him know I’d be there soon. “Thank God,” came the response. Sigh. I prepared myself to enter the motherless sobfest once again. Before I even made it through the door, I could hear the shrieks and my husband’s patient attempts to console her. When they came around the corner, Mia spotted me and grinned ear to ear through her tears. With swollen eyes and a stream of snot glistening on her top lip, she reached her arms out for me as if to say, “Here I am, Mom. You forgot to take me with you.” She was clutching her raggedy lovey in one hand and a pair of my pants in the other.

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Pardi. All rights reserved. Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Pardi. All rights reserved.

“She was doing fine till she spotted your pants,” my husband sighed. I shook my head, trying not to laugh at her bizarre obsession. Every chance she gets, Mia grabs a pair of my pants and slings them around her neck like a scarf before proceeding to parade around until she trips over them. It’s adorable. It’s endearing. And in that moment, it was a reminder to love this phase.

A friend of mine once asked a mother of twelve grown children if she ever looked back on the younger years of her kids and longed to relive them. “No,” the woman told her. “I had my time with them while they were little. Now I love them as adults.” It was a refreshing alternative to the advice that seasoned parents usually pass along to those just embarking on the journey. We’re typically urged to cherish every moment because before we know it they’ll be asking us for the car keys or heading off to college.

Here’s what I’m learning, though: Rejoice in every phase. That means the driving phase, the college phase and yes, even the competing with your shadow phase. Each will bring its respective cross but not without an abundance of graces to lighten the load on our shoulders.

In my case, it’s pants.

Do you ever find yourself longing to relive younger stages of your child’s life or wishing the current one would end already? What do you love about the phase your son or daughter is in right now?

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Pardi