WHITNEY: Even through hard times, your kids still need you

Have you ever stopped to think that the advice you need at any given moment probably has already been given to you?

How often have you thought back on, say, something your long-gone grandma once quipped? Or said the words, “Someone once told me …”

I have two little things like that to share this week, and I’m hoping they make sense together, because it’s not been an easy week.

By the time you read this, it will be more than a week since our friends lost their fierce baby girl just 24 days after she entered the world with the odds already stacked against her. For our little village of friends and neighbors, we have known for months that her story would be a short one, but it’s nonetheless difficult to witness and process.

On the worst days, I’m trying to remember something her mom told me a few months back: Some days suck, some days suck less, but even on the worst days your kid still needs lunch.

See, even when you’re facing tragedy, your children and your family still need you. And with children especially, their resiliency has some kind of magic normalizing power over the worst days. Days when, left to your own devices, you might prefer to stay in bed, they still need to have breakfast in the morning, get off to school, spend some time on the swings in the backyard. In other words, they still need you, and that need is powerful enough to propel you forward, whether or not you’re ready to move.

And while I’m preparing lunch and thinking about all that, I’m also keeping in mind this poem sent to me by my sister back around the time I left my job at the paper. I’ll reprint it here, because even if you don’t need it right now, you might need it again sometime soon.

The Last Time (Author Unknown)

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,

you will never be the same.

You might long for the person you were before,

When you have freedom and time,

And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,

And days will run into days that are exactly the same,

Full of feedings and burping,

Nappy changes and crying,

Whining and fighting,

Naps or a lack of naps,

It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget …

There is a last time for everything.

There will come a time when you will feed

your baby for the very last time.

They will fall asleep on you after a long day

And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,

And never pick them up that way again.

You will scrub their hair in the bath one night

And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.

They will hold your hand to cross the road,

Then never reach for it again.

They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,

And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus” and do all the actions,

Then never sing them that song again.

They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,

The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.

You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.

They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time

Until there are no more times.

And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times,

remember there are only so many of them

and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.

For one last time.