Slow down. Take it all in. If you’re fortunate enough, they won’t be this young forever. Did you read that? If you’re fortunate enough, they won’t be this young forever. “Stop Growing up!” The phrase that almost everyone says if they know a little one that turned 5 before they could blink twice. A phrase you don’t ever think about… unless your child did stop growing up. This phrase meant nothing to me, either. I said it all the time. My nieces have grown up faster than I ever thought possible, and every birthday I would find myself saying “Stop growing up! I wish you could stay (insert age) forever!!” But the reality is.. if my nieces stayed 7 forever, that would bring a lot of pain and grief. That would mean they were forever 7. Not a feeling I or anyone else wants to experience.
I don’t even have children yet, but since I became a pediatric oncology nurse, this phrase makes me look at life in a whole new perspective. I’ve been a first hand witness to children who are forever 3 or 5 or 7. Forever young. Their families would do anything to be able to witness their child growing up. They would do anything to have one more bad day. One more sleepless night. One more day filled with their child’s attitude. They would do anything it took, if that meant one more day with their forever 3 year old.
I’m thankful that God set my heart on fire for childhood oncology. I’ve learned more lessons and felt more emotions from fighting children and their families than I’ve ever learned in my entire life. You see, when you’re in a line of work like mine, you learn new lessons every single day. You learn the strength of the human body and spirit in ways you never knew existed. You celebrate hours of life, honestly, sometimes seconds. You dance for praise reports, but also mourn in times of grief. It’s often on my drive home that I do the most reflecting. When everything is quiet and it just hits you like a ton of bricks. The happiness… and the sadness too.
Witnessing a child growing up can be very much emotional for anyone, but it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually, very beautiful. Perhaps instead of saying “stop growing up”, we could be telling ourselves to stop missing them growing up. Remind ourselves to stop and pay attention to these moments. Every smile. Every laugh and every tantrum. Because if you’re fortunate enough… they won’t be this young forever.