Nice Life Reminders Pip-Life

You will miss them – and their crumbs – very much

June 2, 2018

I’ve written before, urging parents who are battling through the early years with their kids NOT to reprimand older types who well-up and stammer that when their own kids were that age, it was the best years of their life.

I understand, however, that parents who are being tortured on a daily basis by boundary-flexing, sleep-depriving, tantrum-throwing, thing-wanting small children are not interested in any of that teary, nostalgic nonsense. They have enough of their own welling-up to ponder, thank you very much. Maybe they have other people in their care who are constantly welling-up, even?

THAT SAID, I’m going in. Flying in the face of the addled parents who don’t need this nostalgic nonsense, because oh my gosh those truly are brilliant years.

The old lady at the supermarket talking to yawning mum of small kids about how every day counts needs a high five – because SHE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

And land sakes,  imagine if we knew this – and I mean truly KNEW and felt this – when we were deep in the trenches of those years.

I’m not saying it would make everything rosier and magically inject a bracing dose of patience or resilience in parents who are fed up to the eye teeth with their phone being chucked in the loo or Peppa Pig being demanded by a wild-haired toddler at seventeen minutes past four in the morning.

What I am saying is it might help a TITCH in those dark moments, and we should keep what these elders have to say in the back of our minds.

What I am saying is … kids leave.

I mean, I know that everyone KNOWS they leave in a sort of academic, hat-tipping, that’s-what-we’re-working towards way … But the leaving is beyond the knowing, because knowing about something is not actually feeling it or living it, if that makes any sense. It all seems good, in theory, but the fact is the knowing is not KNOWING, in this case.

The leaving part is a bit BRILLIANT, don’t get me wrong, because JOB DONE. TICK. Well. Sort of, because they will sort of dip in and out, scooping up love (and a spicy sambal made of little fish – that is a thing in our house, okay, so just leave it) and a receptive ear when they need it.

But the leaving bit, is the end of the first major growing-up and spreading wings and buggering off part. And with that bit, you really do wave goodbye to things you didn’t know you were going to.

Mess, for starters. There is less. It seems like that would feel good, but the tea-stained table top and stacked mugs with leaves in the bottom and random bits of smoking bread you didn’t realise someone else got stuck in the toaster weirdly feel like valid things to miss.

Bumping shoulders with another bleary soul in the morning, that’s missable too. Noisy chatter and bingles around the dinner table. Missed. A daily rhythm that includes a bunch of different peoples’ needs, all smooshed into a mashed-up life. Missed.

The persons that used to helpfully eat the leftovers and fight the battle of food waste/tell you that curry you made the other night was brilliant? Missed. Even the persons that left just enough milk for half a cup of coffee in the fridge. Missed.

The persons that used to bring their friends over after school and play their music too loud and slam siblings out of their room? Missed. Missed. Missed.

Delving even further back, there are many missable things.

There’s no little hand extending up for reassurance or companionship as you wander down the street. No neck hugs. NONE I TELL YOU. There are no little voices delighting in things you had forgotten to notice. “LOOK Mum! A BUS STOP!!!”

There’s no-one clammily crawling into your bed, annoyingly jumping on your bed or even casually sitting on your bed – you doing up your shoelaces and thinking about whether the notes at the bottom of today’s school/creche bags will be crisp and dry (or have the remains of a juice box seeping into them like an unwelcome tide) while they chat about some other IDIOT kid at school who was rampaging through the classroom with a pot of Clag and a bad attitude earlier that day.


The house is empty of them and their clutter and their clatter and their curry and their testing/lovely companionship … and even their Clag.

And you realise you’d known about this, but you didn’t truly know it.

And, look, YES ‘SPLAINERS OF THE INTERNET it’s your turn to chime in, because of course it’s all for the best and it’s fine and dandy, eventually and onward and all. Everyone adjusts, it’s the cycle of life, it’s what parenting is about. Yada yada. Etc. Thank you for saying your piece, we are all wiser now.

What I’m saying is … kids really. Truly. DO. Leave.

And you should know that you will miss them – and their crumbs – very much.


Image/Eager For Words on ETSY


  • Reply Narelle July 1, 2018 at 12:18 AM

    So true, l lost my 25 year old son last year and I’d give anything to hear his stereo blasting or trip over his clothes or go back to those early days of a sleepless colicky baby. I too say to tired young mums, enjoy every delicious crazy moment you have with them.

  • Reply Holly June 15, 2018 at 2:27 PM

    Thanks for this. My lovelies are 7, 5, and 1. The difference between the 7 year-old and the 1-year-old is so stark that I am reminded every day of how surely my kids are growing up and how quickly this time is passing. Don’t get me wrong – they also drive me completely crazy, but sometimes I already miss them, even while they are right here with me.

  • Reply Melinda June 14, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    Lovely post!
    I thought you might enjoy some more bird watching… here is a link to the nesting pair of white-bellied sea eagles who live in Olympic Park in NSW. They have just laid two eggs!

    • Reply Pip June 15, 2018 at 5:54 PM

      Oh this is exciting! I wonder how long they will take to hatch them! Going to look it up! Thank you, Melinda. xx

  • Reply Clare June 9, 2018 at 11:34 AM

    When my eldest left for college on the other side of the world, I found myself weeping over the potatoes in the supermarket, because I only needed to buy 5 instead of 6! Now, 3 of my children are away at college and I am so grateful that I had my little “dessert” baby – my 4th at 40- who, despite being taller than all his siblings, is still my baby. Despite the stubbly cheeks, I still get to kiss him awake in the mornings, and I know to cherish every day that I get to wade through the laundry and the Lego to get to him! I have come to realize that Motherhood is a perpetual state of mourning: Even though there are new joys ahead, we are constantly losing our children of the past. Thank you for your eloquent, witty, wise and perfect prose. Hugs of comfort from one who knows.

  • Reply Zena June 7, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    I had quite a few instances where older women of varying ages declaring, “They’ll be gone before you know it!”. “These years are fleeting! Cherish every moment.” in line at the supermarket or at the hardware store when I was a new mother with a baby. I was stunned as I had never met them before and I had the worst colicy baby and moved from the city to the bush with no friends or family and was absolutely clueless at the age of 31. Now the children are 5 and 10 I am freaking out I only have 8 more years with the big one before he leaves home. I am cherishing every moment!

  • Reply Selina June 6, 2018 at 2:55 AM

    Beautiful reflection Pip & a good reminder to those of us in sleep deprived early stage of parenting?

  • Reply Ilona June 5, 2018 at 9:07 PM

    My first two have a two year gap and they were such hard work together, cat and dog mostly! Then oops baby arrived 6 years later. By the time she was 3 the first was precociously entering the teen “I hate you phase” and all the grotty stuff I did to my Mam came to mind. I got to play harder with oops baby while working hard on bridges with the other two. It’s not till the bedroom door closes for the first time that you really understand that going to the loo alone is going to be a thing of the present and it’s not really that fantastic anyway. Thanks for the post. Hope mothers of babies read and get it. Time really does fly…

  • Reply jools June 3, 2018 at 11:41 PM

    My eldest has been staying at his girlfriends for the last week but arrived back tonight in his smelly football kit bringing a whirlwind of chaos and laughter with him. And suddenly the house feels right once again.
    I’m not ready for him to go permanently but I know the time is coming.

  • Reply Denyse Whelan June 3, 2018 at 9:42 PM

    They do & mine did. Elder child at 21. Younger sib at 25. The first one was a shock once done – there was another few years before we were DELIGHTED to see other go. But now I see my elder child has now farwelled one of hers. Life! What a cycle, ebbs & flows… so much. Love this Pip . D xx

  • Reply Jane @ Shady Baker June 3, 2018 at 3:44 PM

    This is really beautiful Pip. Due to our geographical position in the world our children are destined to attend boarding school for their secondary school years. In fact, our eldest will be heading off next year. This is something we have been planning for in a logistical sense ever since our children came along, but I can barely bring myself to think about the reality of it. So, thank you for your wise words as always x

  • Reply Sarah June 3, 2018 at 10:09 AM

    for what it’s worth, I have little needy ones and can’t imagine them being grown and leaving, but I do feel very much that these are the best years and don’t want them to end!

  • Reply Jasmine June 3, 2018 at 6:26 AM

    Hi there, there is a saying here in Australia “a daughter is your daughter all your life, a son is your son until he takes a wife! and I have found that to be true even though a have a lovely, perfect daughter in law, who I love and she loves me and includes me in their lives, my daughter talks to me every day. They live hundreds of Kilometers from me but I get phone hugs every day!!!!

    • Reply Rachel June 4, 2018 at 8:18 PM

      That’s an English saying I think, it’s pretty common here. Wherever it’s derivation it’s probably partly true.

  • Reply kddomingue June 3, 2018 at 3:16 AM

    Yes, that’s me. I’m the irritating old woman telling you that they leave all too soon and to savour these moments of madness and mayhem while you can. Then I have my five going on six year old granddaughter for a couple of days in a row…..and I remember what the young mothers are in the midst of ALL OF THE TIME, lol! Yep, I totally remember desperately wanting just one day to myself without everybody NEEDING me. But I want to remind all of the mothers currently in the throes of child rearing…… they grow up. They fly the nest. They have their own lives that they’re living. And we, the mothers with an empty nest and no young ones NEEDING us all the time, well…..sometimes we get to worrying that NOBODY needs us. The children we’ve raised are proving that we did a good job, y’all are rocking the grown up thing and doing just great! But….can y’all just remember to need us once in a while?

  • Reply Rachel McDonnell June 2, 2018 at 11:01 PM

    Not always…don’t want to be a downer, but I have a disabled 5 yo. He may never grow up “typically”, and be in a position to leave home. My 8 yo daughter has taken it upon herself to announce that she will take responsibility for looking after him when I can’t. So, with love, be grateful that your babies can grow up and leave home…as heart rending as that might be. You have successfully raised remarkable people ??!

    • Reply Pip June 3, 2018 at 7:45 AM

      Thanks for sharing a little bit more about your life, Rachel. xx

  • Reply Reannon June 2, 2018 at 10:35 PM

    I am a unique kinda parent, straddling two different eras of motherhood at once. On one hand I’ve got my eldest who’s moved out of home (and making very questionable choices and not talking to his mother NEAR enough to settle her heart) and as much as he drove me bananas, I feel very strange not seeing him every day or having all my kids home each night. I don’t like it much at all. And then I have the little two. These two push our boundaries like nobody else has. The days are loooooooong and filled with many needs and many fights and much yelling but I say to my husband often how lucky we are to have had such a big gap between the first two and the second two. It gave me perspective and appreciation and stops me from wanting to rush through all the stages because I know they never last long enough. I know that very quickly small hands grow into large hands that no longer want to hold yours. I know that quickly you move from managing their days to being a mere consultant (if you’re lucky). I know that your heart breaks when they don’t need, or want you, in their lives anymore.
    Nobody ever told me that your kids can, & probably will, break your heart harder than any man ever could. Nobody ever told me that they can also put it back together with a simple hug.

  • Reply Amanda June 2, 2018 at 9:39 PM

    My youngest chicken turned 18 today and I must admit to shedding a tear or two…quietly…on my own. The end of an era xxx

  • Reply Carly June 2, 2018 at 9:29 PM

    I have a 7 year old and two and a half year old and I have just started to realise that my eldest over the next few years will change so much, and this season of having little kids will be gone. Yes, I am sure happy about my youngest slowly getting a bit ‘easier’ to wrangle, but a bit of sadness is already creeping in as she starts full time preschool in a few months( it’s the norm to go 5 days where we live). I’m realising that no stage lasts forever, and I’m starting to appreciate how my mum told me she felt when my brother and I left home. My brother was a bit of a boomerang and I made the clear transition out and then never came back. Then after having my first child I moved countries with my husband and broke my mums heart just another piece more!

  • Reply kate June 2, 2018 at 8:44 PM

    YES YES YES Pip you have said it so well.
    Yes i knew they would move out, would have a life separate to me, that I would only know/see/be part of the bits they wanted to share with me, yet the reality of it was like being blinded by the brightest torch, right in my face. There I was head down in the trenches, feeling my way, stop and look up to get my bearings and bam 1100000 watts straight in the eyes, couldn’t see a damn thing. And I’ve still got 1 at home, for the rest of this year and then who knows. I knew this was coming, but honestly I was kidding myself, I had no idea of the reality.
    It’s the smallest things I miss too, every glass we own in the sink, keys, mail, books, wallets, all along the breakfast bar driving me crazy. I miss them passing through, telling me snippets of their and their friends lives, keeping me connected to current fads etc. I just miss THEM. They all live 4 hours away, so no unplanned visits either. I try not to smother the remaining child, lest I drive her away faster.
    I have no idea about my life post children, it just always seemed like something that would happen in the future, well the future is knocking on the door and I haven’t figured out how I want it to be or look.
    I feel guilty when I just do something because I feel like it, but the reality is it doesn’t take all the time I have to run this house and small family like it used to and time is something I have so much of right now that I find myself caught in a loop of what do I do now?
    Anyway I’ve waffled enough
    cheers Kate

  • Reply Susan, Mum to Molly June 2, 2018 at 8:24 PM

    Oh Pip, you are so very right. My babies are 15, 12 & 9 and it feels like they will all be reaching significant milestones with their next birthdays, all by the end of the year.

    I feel like this is the ‘savour it’ (and the ridiculously busy) season of parenting… Every single time we’re all at a meal together and noone is bickering I am grateful that we’re all still together. For now.

    Oh I know that I will miss them. Spectacularly.

  • Reply Sandra June 2, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    Yes. I KNOW it but I haven’t had to FEEL it yet. Mine are 11 and 14 and I do know/feel it coming SOON. And there are already things I miss. Neck cuddles, yes. Reading stories. Riding bikes together. I’m grasping onto times where we sit and drink coffee and milo together. I’ll miss those times.
    My hairdresser told me there wasn’t an actual DAY when her son moved out. He stayed at his girlfriends house on and off and then she realised there was no longer an “off ” … he had stopped coming home. He had moved out quite organically and she didn’t even get that day like on movies and telly where they load up the car and drive off and wave goodbye! Zoinks.
    Thanks for your thoughts Pip. Your experiences in mothering have always been a gratefully accepted heads up for me.

  • Reply Sarah June 2, 2018 at 8:17 PM

    My eldest turns 14 tomorrow, where have all those years gone? I’m just stoked she still likes hugs and isn’t walking 10 m in front of me in public.

  • Reply Josephine June 2, 2018 at 7:48 PM

    Oh Pip. Such important words you write. I have two lads, 8 and almost 6. I’m still recovering from the challenges of baby- and toddlerhood, but becoming more keenly aware of the speeding-up of time. I really need the reminder to savour it all as much as I can. Biggest hugs coming your way ?

  • Reply Erin June 2, 2018 at 7:12 PM

    Well that made me sad. Because I know I’m guilty of sometimes just trying to get through the day with my little four. Just survive it. And I know in those moments I’m missing out, but some days I’m just so damn tired. Thank you for reminding me though. I needed it xxx

    • Reply Pip June 2, 2018 at 7:14 PM

      Oh gosh I remember that tiredness. A bone tiredness. A tiredness where you are driving around and you don’t even know how you got where you’re going, or indeed who you even ARE. Survival is JUST FINE when that’s all you can manage, I reckon. x

  • Reply Saskia June 2, 2018 at 7:11 PM

    Oh gosh, I am seriously crying. Truly. You got me in the heart. Mine are 11 and 14, so that’s my future right up there, and it feels not so terribly far away. Beautiful writing. Thanks Pip.

    • Reply Pip June 2, 2018 at 7:15 PM

      It happens so quickly. It really does!! I can’t even believe it, to be honest, but here we are! x

  • Reply Michelle Crawford June 2, 2018 at 7:10 PM

    Such beautifully written wise words Pip. Mxx

    • Reply Pip June 2, 2018 at 7:15 PM

      Oh hello! Thank you so much MC. That means a lot, coming from you. x

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