Recently I read a blog entitled, “Stop Telling Me to Enjoy Every Moment.” If I could talk with the author of this essay face-to-face, one mother to another, this is what I would say.
I understand why you feel the way you do, but you are so wrong. You won’t believe me until it’s too late. Right now, all you and many other mothers of young children want is some quality time alone, a clean house, and a long, peaceful shower. You can’t wait until the day your child goes to school and you can finally go to lunch somewhere besides McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A or another place with a built-in playground. An afternoon of shopping without a stroller or a child on your hip would be a dream come true.
I get it.
I remember a time when my son was a toddler. We were at the grocery store, and I was grabbing a huge carrot out of his mouth, hoping he wouldn’t contract E. coli or some other bacterial infection. An elderly lady walked by me and said, “Enjoy every moment. It goes so fast.”
I wanted to punch her in the face.
My son was not an easy baby or toddler. He never liked naps. He demanded that his cereal bars be in perfect condition. If they weren’t, he would throw them in the garbage. One day he loved broccoli; the next day it was like kryptonite. When he had to swallow a spoonful of medicine, I had to ready myself for a 45-minute ordeal. He never wanted to hold my hand, and in a crowded store, he would magically slip out of his stroller no matter how many times I wrapped and locked those tricky straps. Putting him in his car seat was another joyous activity. How could he arch his back so perfectly and jerk upward at just the right moment so that my head would smash on the frame of the car door? And why would he consistently blow out his diaper every time I had finally secured him in his car seat? I am convinced that it was a conspiracy. I’m not sure who he was in cahoots with, but it had to be someone who wanted me to go absolutely nowhere and to have no fun in the process. Even when I was out of town, others paid the price. Once, when I was working in Rhode Island, my son’s babysitter called and said he’d taken his diaper off and “painted” his entire crib with it. You get the picture.
But somewhere along the way, I blinked. My child is now a teenager, and I am on the other side of the toddler timeline. As I look back and remember, I want to return to those days and have a “do-over.” I want to change so much of what I did, the issues I concentrated on, and the things that I thought were important. Oh, how I wish I could go back and just enjoy the moments.
If I could do it again, I wouldn’t care if the house was messy. My husband, my friends, and the neighbors could go ahead and judge me. I would realize that a messy house wouldn’t mean I was a “less than” mom. Instead, it would mean that I took the time to play with my son, and when he took a nap, so did I. Rather than depleting myself for the sake of good housekeeping, I would rest up so that I could actually enjoy play time. If I cleaned the house, it would be a good day. If I didn’t, it would still be a good day.
I would pick him up more often. I can recall his toddler voice saying, “Hold you, Mommy. Hold you!” But too many times, my answer was “no.” Now, I just want one afternoon when I could scoop him up in my arms and we could dance around the living room. I would be thrilled with another day to walk with him on my hip or to hold him in my arms with his head on my shoulder.
With one more day, I’d do the Hokey Pokey as many times as he asked, even if I thought I would literally die if I had to hear that song one more time. And I’d read Goodnight Moon over and over again.
The problem is that you don’t realize these things until they are gone. And by the time you wish you had just one more moment, it’s too late. So yes, I would say to you, “Enjoy every moment.” I would tell you to cherish those precious days while they are still here. I would tell you not to get too upset with the ladies who remind you. We’ve been there, and we are just remembering and wishing that we had those moments back.
Because they go so fast.