Time is a cruel master of mothers. An agonizingly slow torturer of exhausted moms watching the clock through bleary eyes, wondering why it’s taking so long for bedtime to roll around as she scrapes crusted mac and cheese from a pot as the soft din of a Disney Junior show entertains her kids in the distance.

While distracting you with the rigor of daily life, time swiftly chisels away at your round-cheeked babes, shaping them into long lean boys that break your heart because it seems to have happened so suddenly.

Time is slow march that have mothers begging for a reprieve. For the years beyond when life will get easier; sleep more plentiful. Then, as if playing a role in a fable about getting what you wish for, time turns the pages rapidly until you’re left breathless and wanting and wishing for it to slow down just a tad.

Time softens the sharp edges of what makes being a parent so difficult. Quietly it whittles away the memories of bone-crushing exhaustion from waking up 2-3 times in the middle of the night. It fades away the teething troubles, the epic tantrums, the potty training mess and frustration. What mothers are left with is a blurred version of events. A distorted, rose-colored history that perhaps allows us to continue to procreate in the first place.

But these softened memories cause mothers to turn on themselves. To chastise themselves for not living in the moment and enjoying the preciousness of what they had. It wrenches your heart out of your chest, causes tears to spring to your eyes when you look back at photos and videos of old. Did you hug and kiss them enough? Did you show them patience and understanding? Did you soak up that stage to its fullest extent – taking the bad with the good and embracing the moment? Did you understand that this stage is fleeting and allow yourself enjoy it?

Mothers know the answer to that as a dark cloud of guilt and longing rolls in. Rushed bedtime routines, raised voices, patience that runs dry. Tears – yours and theirs – as you battle through another day. You didn’t truly appreciate what you had, you were simply trying to survive it.

Speed up. Slow down. Days move at a snail’s pace. Years in a blink. Babies no more. Mothers standing with a fractured heart that continues to burst at the seam with an ever-growing love all the while lamenting the passage of time.

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