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Longing For What Was

Longing For What Was

When I first became a mother, I was often told ‘the days are long, but the years are short’, yet it never registered till the years started to roll. That is when longing for what was started. 

As the years passed, I started realizing the truth in the phrase I often heard. The years are truly short. As parents, and especially in the early years of parenthood. It almost feels like just as we begin adjusting to a specific rhyme to the day. We find ourselves readjusting to another tune or phase.

Leaving you to wonder:

when did all this happen? It feels like just yesterday I was holding you in my arms as a newborn. 

By the age of one, newborns grow from barely being able to open their eyes. To possibly figuring out how to walk. And by their second birthday, they begin forming sentences and maybe even small phrases too! As our children grow and their developmental milestones visit one after the other. We are often left with a sense of longing for moments that have now turned into cherished memories. Hoping to be able to hold on to these moments just a little longer. And as the years pass, we realize the importance of being present in the moment while still holding memories close. 

It all happens before you know it.

Before we know it, they start shaping their own characters and personalities. Expressing their likes and dislikes. Connecting different observations together. And are curious about the logic of the world around them. Almost forcing us to realize that they no longer are just our sweet little child. They are them in their own way… and still, they are the sweet little children we once knew. Even though they’ve grown, they remain connected to their younger selves. 

Whether they ask to listen to a song they enjoyed when they were littler. Or pretend to be a baby all over again while still declaring to still be a big boy/girl. One can’t help but wonder if these too are developmental milestones or something else. Where they are now able to access a part of their subconscious mind to relive the emotions within that memory. Or are they simply wanting to see how far they’ve grown since that memory took place. 

As adults, we often express our longing for moments in the past. Whether it is missing the ‘newborn phase’ or ‘good old days’. Or simply being sent back to a specific memory when our favorite song comes on. And more likely than not, we are welcomed with support, understanding and maybe even creative ways to re-experience these moments. However, if we ask ourselves, if our child expresses, in their own way. Longing to listen to a song they once danced to or a toy they once enjoyed playing with. How would that be welcomed? 

Children are often told that they need to grow up or to stop acting like a baby.

Without recognizing that maybe longing for what was is part of growing up. And that is them not acting like a baby. As adults, we are rarely told we need to grow up because we are holding on to a memory. We know that sometimes we catch ourselves smiling so effortlessly because of these beautiful childhood memories. Like singing along to a childhood song. Or how a specific scent sends you back to an exact moment in time. 

Regardless of why children choose to relive their younger years. Longing for what was is part of who we are. It is how we are built; it is not something childish that needs to stop or be outgrown

And now because we are more aware of that, we can be there for them even more. We can make the most of these ‘longing for the past’ moments to create beautiful bonding memories. So, the next time your child asks to be ‘a baby’ again. Play along and allow them to take the lead in narrating what and why you do what you do. Use it as a chance to know your child even more by asking why this specific memory is so special. It is a wonderful chance to learn more about your child. And for your child to re-experience your love and care all over again.

Take it as an opportunity to bond and strengthen their individuality, helping them develop in their own unique way. Let’s face it, there is no instruction manual that comes with each child. But it is indeed our responsibility to pave the way for their growth. Without shaming or dismissing their learn-as-we-go trials and errors. Their perception of the world is still hopeful and playful. And our role, as parents, is to guide them along the way. Be their North Star for them to eventually be their own guiding star. 

About our author, Farah Al Qaissieh
Farah Al Qaissieh is a consulting hypnotist, a mother to three boys, an award winning social entrepreneur, and a person who stutters. In 2018, Farah was one of the recipients of the Abu Dhabi Award; the highest civilian medal and recognition granted by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for her positive impact in the community through her social startup, Stutter UAE. Since 2013, Farah has been using her voice to advocate for people who stutter and support improving their emotional wellbeing. Farah was featured in a book chapter titled “Game Changers: How Women in the Arab World Are Changing the Rules and Shaping the Future”, published in 2016. To know more about Farah; IG: @farahalqaissieh