A little over a year ago, I was with a friend of mine at our favorite coffee shop on a snowy day. We were both about a million months pregnant and had our two-year-olds in tow. As we were waiting to order, my friend’s beautiful, smart, lovely little girl started Having A Moment as only a two-year-old on a nap strike can. I’m not even sure what she was upset about, but there was crying and yelling and carrying on. My friend was doing an admiral job holding herself together and dealing with the tantrum, especially considering the fact that she was hauling around an extra kid in her belly. At that exact moment, a middle-aged woman with her preteen approached us and said in the happiest, perkiest voice ever, with a huge smile on her face, “Oh! Enjoy every moment! They grow so quickly!” What. The. Heck?
Can we please, please stop giving this piece of advice to other mothers? I get the sentiment here – one day, they will no longer be babies, and there will be plenty to miss about this stage. The snuggles, the sweetness, the adorable mispronounced words. But for the love of God, how does that mean that we should be able to, (with a little effort!) enjoy EVERY moment of parenting little ones? Talk about pressure. Have you ever enjoyed every moment of anything in your whole life? Even the best parts of life have their rough parts. Relationships have arguments, vacations have flight delays, weddings have family drama… life is just not known for its perfection.
I feel like it’s human nature to look back on our lives through rose-colored glasses. In hindsight, we made it through the hard parts and it was worth it in the end. Honestly, my youngest son has only been sleeping through the night for two months and I’m already missing my middle of the night cuddles. But that doesn’t mean that in the moment, the challenges of life are awesome.
Every day, there are multiple moments with my children that I do not enjoy. Herding everyone to the car like cattle, convincing my preschooler to put on his shoes, my toddler waking up two hours early and refusing to go back to sleep… I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I don’t particularly enjoy any of these moments. There are, however, many moments for which ‘enjoy’ isn’t even the right word. Watching THESE moments can practically make my heart explode. The amazing hug and ear to ear smile that I get when I pick my son up from his short morning at preschool. My toddler yelling ‘nah-nah!’ instead of mama whenever he needs me. The two of them playing together. Their amazing reaction to music. All these blow the tough times out of the water. So please, don’t tell a new mama to enjoy every moment. Not only is it impossible, but the tough times make the wonderful ones seem all the better.