I am the mama to four small children. And life down here in the trenches is pretty hard.
I spend my share of time on social media, both for the mental break it provides, and because I love the connection. I love to share uplifting stories, and parenting strategies, and commiseration with my mother-friends. I love the reminder that I am not alone down here in the proverbial mud.
But every now and then, while perusing my favorite sites, I come across a very specific quote that always hits me like a punch in the gut.
“Enjoy every moment.”
I get it, I really do. Trust me, I get that I will miss it. I know it in the pit of my gut.
Moments that have already passed are missed so much already.
I already miss the smell of a newborn, and number four is only 6 months old.
I already miss the way number one said “zigga zigga” before years of speech therapy.
I already miss the way number two giggled only for her dada.
I already miss the way number three would sit on the counter and help me cook.
Despite missing all of those things, I want to be completely honest with you. There are just so many moments that are so hard, they simply cannot be enjoyed. I don’t enjoy three children telling me from different bathrooms in the house that they need me to come wipe. I don’t enjoy having to remind a small person for the fourth time TODAY that “that’s why we only drink at the table.” I don’t love pulling little humans away from each other, imploring them to play kindly or play apart.
I will not miss those moments.
But I also know how memory works.
I also know that, looking back the hardest of my hard days, they don’t feel so hard in my memory. When I look back at pictures of bad days from six weeks ago, or six months ago, or two years ago… they already feel much softer.
I already have rose colored glasses that I can pull out. I know that, when a parent that has left these small-children years long behind them tells me to “enjoy every moment,” they are speaking it through their rose-colored megaphone.
Still, those words cause me nothing but guilt.
Guilt because I am NOT enjoying every moment, and I KNOW these are days that I won’t get back, and I am SURE that I will miss having small children around in the future.
That doesn’t mean I have to enjoy every moment.
It doesn’t mean YOU have to ENJOY. EVERY. MOMENT.
It’s okay to be sad, and a little lonely. It’s okay to be mad that things are really hard. It’s okay to look forward to a time when things get a little calmer, a little quieter, a little less needy.
You can hate the right now, and still know that you will miss it later. That is okay.
I know that, some day not too long in the future, I’m going to be the mom of some bigger kids, looking at a mama with a gaggle of little ones and a strangled look on her face. I will see her desperation, her slightly-wild eyes and unspoken plea for a moment of quiet, a second to breathe. I will see her, and I will feel in the deepest part of my heart what it feels like to be there. I will flash-back to these days that are so hard, and I will MISS THEM with all of my being.
In that moment, I pledge never to dishonor her difficulties and challenges and exhaustion with a flippant, “enjoy every moment,” as well-meaning as it may be.
Instead, I promise that I will share my best wisdom. I will offer her the kindness I try to continually offer to myself these hard days. I will smile with as much sympathy as I can muster, and perhaps give her a hug. I will tell her,
“Keep on doing the best you can, mama. And trust that you will remember more of the good than the bad.”
In the mean time, please stop telling me to enjoy every one of these moments.
I just can’t.