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Don’t wish it away.


I got a text from my girlfriend the other day telling me a story.

She was walking in the woods with another friend and their baby girls. Two women walked by and said, wistfully, “That was us 20 years ago.“

Her friend replied, “Yes, but look at your freedom now!”

They both immediately said, “We’d trade it in a second to have that back.”

Then they both kept repeating, “Don’t wish it away.”

I wept reading the text.

My baby girl is only four and a half months old, yet I can’t imagine my life without her.

There have been moments over these last several months, especially between the hours of 1:00 – 5:00am, when I’ve counted down the months until she’s able to sleep through the night and articulate exactly what she needs to me.

But then I put her in a set of footie pajamas that tug at the neck because she’s outgrown them. And I switch this set of clothes out of the drawer, to be replaced by the new set marking a new chapter of this tiny person’s life.

And I get nostalgic. I can only imagine what I’ll feel like 20 years from now if I’m already feeling so bittersweet now, not even 6 months in to this whole motherhood thing.

And then I remember:  Don’t wish it away.

I longed to finally meet my husband when I was running around NYC, single in my twenties. I envied my coupled friends for the stability in their love lives.

Then they’d ask me for all the juicy details of my love life and my dating adventures.

And then I’d remember:  Don’t wish it away.

I ached to return home to Maine to start a family when Mike and I were traveling around the country on The Freedom Tour. I was homesick for the smell of the sea and the clean air.

Then we’d have a magical adventure like the time we were gifted a gorgeous bed and breakfast stay in Whitefish, MT, just because the owner liked us. And we spent the most incredible day hiking in Glacier National Park. And we saw a mama bear with her baby cubs frolicking in a giant field.

And then I remembered:  Don’t wish it away.

The baby is crying outside my office door. I’ve yet to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy jeans. Our kitchen counter looks like a bomb went off. My hair is doing very weird things on account of hormones and lack of attention. I’ve eaten all my meals today standing up. I can’t seem to get even one task completed.

I feel all kinds of ungrounded, frazzled, and generally a mess.

Yet from past experience, I know that I’ll miss this. Everyone and their mother is telling me, “It goes so fast.” And while some find it annoying, I mostly take it to heart.

So tonight I shall cuddle my girl, stare into her beautiful bright eyes, put my pajamas on at 5pm like I almost always do these days, and not wish it away.

I’ve found that nearly every chapter of my life looks better in retrospect than I realized it was in the moment. I’m quite certain that this chapter is no exception.

My prayer for you and for me is that we realize how good it is while we’re living it, not just when we’re looking back.

Wherever you are, no matter where you’d rather be instead, don’t wish it away.

There will be a time in your life when you’ll miss this time.

So don’t wish it away.

Share the love: Don’t wish it away: a reminder from @katenorthrup.


  • So good! Such a good reminder for everyone to cherish where they are in their lives right now. Especially, for those of us with young ones it’s so easy to think about how much easier things will be when they’re just a little older. But I am so going to miss this special time with them when everything is so full of magic. Thank you for the reminder. I will not wish it away. <3

  • Anupama

    Kate thank you so much for this blog, I have never come across this concept of Don’t wish it away. Wow what a powerful tool for us and our children. Just like your mom I see you as my inspiration. I am preparing for the journey of motherhood and soon will be a mother. I already get enough of that, enjoy this, enjoy that because when you have a baby you can’t do this and that. I have been a light sleeper all my life and I am quite concerned as to how I would deal with those sleepless nights, but this mantra “don’t wish it away” seems to be a powerful intervention reminding us of the gifts we have in our life. Thank you, thank you so much for this.

    • Kate Northrup

      You’re going to be an amazing mom and you’ll totally adjust to the sleep thing. I was a light sleeper and needed a lot of sleep before the baby and I’m functioning great on like half the sleep I used to get! The body is miraculous!

  • Cathi Thorpe

    I loved this and so shared it with my niece, the mother of a 6 year old and twin 3 year olds. She emailed me back thanking me for sharing and that it made her cry. It is hard to remember that every experience is a gift and we need to accept it for what it brings to our life. Thanks for the reminder and for your beautiful writing. You inspire me often and in many ways.

  • Lauren

    I have a 4 month old and can relate to everything you say here. This is so spot on. Every time I am up with him in the middle of the night, I try to remind myself that one day I’ll be wishing for these moments again. Thank you for writing this.

  • Thank you for this exquisite reminder. I made a similar resolution long ago to try and perceive the moment in light of that golden, retrospective glow. In hard times, I remember: this will be a memory. In good times, I think the same! In average times, I try to find a spark that will make this worth remembering (but without pressure… not every moment must be grand, just wholehearted).

    Your essay inspired me to look back at what I tweeted in the first months after my daughter was born. Smiling now as a re-post a couple of those tweets to share:

    Daughter won’t nap and at 3 months old can’t entertain herself long. Result: No time to focus. Hidden freedom: I can’t do anything about it.

    This multitasking life is replete with zen requirements to accept that exactly (and only) what I’m doing now is all I should be doing.


    • Kate Northrup

      Such beautiful insights Laurie! I absolutely love the idea of looking at every moment as though it will be a memory. Makes it all special no matter what’s happening!

  • Macha

    love it. I made that decision when my kids were babies. That I would enjoy every minute. I know I will miss it when they are grown. They are 7 and 9 now and I see the time passing and I stay extra present. Oh and get a 5 year journal!!!!

  • Michele

    There is nothing so precious as a new infant – her cries, her smiles, her wonderment at all around her. This past weekend, I was a witness to the joy your daughter exhibits when her Mommy and Daddy are in her sight and hearing – it was obvious that she knows she is loved and that you are making beautiful memories together. Thanks for reminding this Grandma of so many of those moments that I had when your husband and his sister and brother were little – and now I get to make many more memories with our grandchildren. And I will cherish every moment as they come!

  • Kate…the best times of your life is ehen you are raising your young children…

  • I can’t help but notice that the two older women in the story, those two good friends taking a walk together, were doing the same thing in reverse. We “wish away” our present by longing for the past. When one of those friends is gone, the other will probably realize what a special day they were having together right then and there. Both the future AND the past steal our precious present.

  • Claire

    I seriously love everything that you say! Life is always crazy and busy, but I try to appreciate every moment. It rings so true to me. I’m just curious whether you know what your MBTI personality type is – I wonder if we’re similar?!

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