I recently saw a little boy of about three in a courtyard dining area laughing and chatting away to his mum. It made me feel a little teary because this animated youngster reminded me of my own son at the same age. He is now an adult pushing 30.
I immediately began to ponder how quickly time passes and to wonder if I had, in fact, made the most of quality time with my children when they were young. In retrospect, I believe I did.
However, I also know that too often I let trivial things take up my time that could have been better spent enjoying the special moments.
Sometimes I was so busy being all things possible to my children - cook, cleaner, carer, fashion co-ordinator, social director - that I overlooked the simple joys. I know I am not the first parent to do this. In fact, I believe every parent can get caught up in the process of their role at times and forget to enjoy the special moments.
As I look at my, now, three adult children I can't help but note how quickly the time has passed from those childhood days.
Don't get me wrong, I also love spending quality time with my adult children. In fact, I think I value the opportunities for quality time far more than I did when they were young.
This is not because I didn't love my role as a parent back then, but because I was too often concerned about whether or not I was ticking the boxes as a good parent and provider in the eyes of other people.
Both my husband and I were kept so busy making sure everything was 'just right' to ensure they had a safe and secure childhood.
We were working hard, building a home, supporting the educational needs (right down to volunteering to read in class, help in the canteen and coach sporting teams) and co-ordinating their schedules with a variety of extra-curricula activities.
Now don't get me wrong, the need to keep on track with the daily requirements of a parent calls for a solid plan. However, I think that we can get so caught up in that planning and organised process that we forget to stop and enjoy the simply joys of our role. The random moments worth relishing.
Something like sitting down and listening intently to the joyful chatter of a little one can be beautiful and priceless. You can't schedule for that, it happens when it happens.
I recently met up with a couple of a newborn who quite simply looked exhausted. Their new baby was not sleeping or feeding well. Of course that meant that they were also not sleeping well. It's been a while, but I remember that feeling vividly.
On reflection of myself and my husband at the same point with our first newborn, almost three decades ago, I quickly related to the struggling young couple.
I can still remember looking at our gorgeous little bundle of joy, totally in love and completely overwhelmed with my life-long responsibility to protect him and wondering "will he ever stop crying". For the record the crying wasn't endless, but when you are exhausted everything appears worse and your thoughts quickly get caught up looking forward to when things will, hopefully, be simpler in the future.
If you are a parent you will know those thoughts. "I can't wait until he sleeps through the night", "it will be easier when he can talk and let me know if he has a tummy ache or sore head", or "it will be great when he is toilet trained and I don't have to keep changing nappies."
The list goes on, but ultimately I can't help think that such thoughts are like wishing away the time.
Time really does seem to pass too quickly and if we get too caught up in the challenges, we fail to appreciate the joys - the time when they start to smile and laugh, when their first efforts to talk result in the cutest little sounds of babbling, and their reactions to every new experience.
What I have learnt from my earliest moments as a parent is that nothing stays the same.
You may struggle to encourage a toddler to surrender their dummy for good, but have you ever seen a teenager with one.
At that stage of your parenting role you can expect a completely different dummy spit ... trust me.
- Mother-of-three grown kids, ACM editor Mumma Jak is familiar with the many and varied ways to raise well-rounded humans.