Parenting Past the To-Do List

Sometime after checking phone notifications, restarting the dryer, and staring at your growing to-do list, you hear a little voice.

The voice asks for milk. Chocolate milk.

The request mingles with work deadlines, weekend plans, and the worry that your diaper supply won't last the day. Somehow, though, you move it to the forefront. The kid is thirsty and the least you can do is hand him a cup, right?

Without missing a beat, you juggle your phone, his cup and the two necessary ingredients. You manage a "welcome" to his "thank you" and you carry on. More requests follow, like turning on a certain show, grabbing pretzels from the top shelf, and listening to this week's tune from piano lessons.

Confidently you knock them out of the park. All items on your list are ticked off one by one. Once the kids are satisfied, your multitasking ends and you can devote your full focus elsewhere.

Wait a minute.

Can anyone else relate to this string of events (please speak up, it'll make me feel much better)? I don't like to dwell on the constant passing of time when it comes to parenting. Everyone knows that growing children come with the territory, but actually looking at how that time is spent is another story.

Every once in a while, I will look at my children and realize how long it's been. Obviously I look to make sure shoes are on the right feet and I'll hold a gaze as I help with second-grade math, but I'm talking about seriously looking at them. Seeing them as people I love, not just items on a list.

Just the other day, my middle child clambered up into my lap and it was like I was seeing those chocolate brown eyes for the first time. In them I saw hungry curiosity as they rapidly searched mine for answers. I saw change in the curves of his face. The puffy baby cheeks are starting to reveal a child with deeper dimples and a grin that sneaks up higher on the right. I notice how he hugs tighter when I drop to my knees and meet his reach. It's startling how fast the stages and the milestones and the calendar pages fly by.

Truth: right now is the only time your kid will be this exact age. Every moment is different, every day is new, and now is the time to soak it up.

Time is the one constant on the unlit path into parenthood. Instead of fretting over where the time goes, however, be in the moments you have. Use that time to actually see who your kids are becoming.

Look into their faces. What you find might surprise you.


Jessica Bauer is a small-town girl enjoying her slice of life and figuring things out as she goes. Her cast of characters includes her husband Jonathan, two sons, and a bouncing baby girl. You can find her blogging the good, the bad, and the funny in parenting at Life with the Bauer Bunch (