07/14/2014 10:44 am ET Updated Sep 13, 2014

I Want to Remember It All

Katie Manley

Being a parent is hard, rewarding, exhausting, wonderful, excruciating, fun, sad, happy and stressful.

It's ALL of those different times, at the same time. It changes from day to day, minute to minute.

And I want to remember it all.

I want to remember when it's hard and stressful and exhausting.

I want to remember what it is like to spend so much time cutting up dinner for the kids that my dinner is cold, lukewarm at best, by the time I sit down to eat. I want to remember how long baths and showers take and the blood-curdling screams when it is time to wash their hair. (WHY, dear Lord, do they always scream?) I want to remember the difficult struggle of potty training and the incessant fighting and whining and refusing to eat a good square meal. I want to remember the complaining that they will absolutely just die from boredom. I want to remember the constant requests for snacks. (How can they eat so many snacks?!) I want to remember the endless laundry or the toys EVERYWHERE, in every damn corner of every room in the house. I want to remember what it is like to long for just a few minutes of peace or a quiet dinner out without the kids. I want to remember the battle to keep my toddler in the cart while shopping because she has decided she wants to stand and I am fairly certain she will fall and crack her head open right in the middle of the bread aisle in Target. I want to remember the embarrassing public tantrums and the judging eyes from strangers that are sure they would be a better parent than I am at this moment. I want to remember how everything takes twice, no, three times as long when the kids are involved.

I want to remember when it's nothing but happiness and joy.

I want to remember the rare moments when my girls are playing together in harmony or when they help each other pick out their clothes, which are usually entirely too dressy and bedazzled for the occasion. I want to remember when they put on concerts for us in the back yard and choreograph their own dance routines to annoying Taylor Swift songs. I want to remember when they proudly show us their school work or their perfect score on a spelling test. I want to remember their innocence and their pure joy in things like stuffed animals and Christmas and cupcakes. (Who am I kidding? I'm 36 years old and cupcakes still bring me pure joy.) I want to remember the belly laughs and hugs and cuddles and the quiet times that they crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night. I want to remember chubby little legs and dimpled fingers. I want to remember the homemade cards just to say, "You are the best Mommy ever."

Because soon enough, things will change. They won't need us for everything. Some things will certainly get easier, but other things are sure to get harder. (Please don't warn me about how "fun" it is having teenage girls. Just don't.)

They will be showering themselves and heading up to bed without help or crying or empty threats from me. They won't want a story at bedtime. They'll wash their own hair and dress themselves. They won't be bored because they will want the company of their friends... and not their parents. They might not be so willing and eager to share their school work. They will cut up their own food and (fingers crossed!) be able to sit at a table in a restaurant and have an enjoyable, peaceful meal.

And when we are at that restaurant enjoying a relaxing family meal, I certainly won't get annoyed at the toddler having a tantrum at the table next to us while one parent searches for a snack in their bag and the other cuts up their 4-year-old's chicken fingers.

Nope, I will not get annoyed one bit.

I will give them a smile and a knowing look that says, I have been there. Because I have been there.

And I remember it all.