Sunday, February 15, 2015

• What If I Can't Enjoy Every Moment •

It's that look I get from complete strangers when they see us with four boys. That, "oh wow you have four boys, enjoy every moment it goes so quickly," comes up & I just nod my head & smile. 

Here’s the thing: I do enjoy this. I do look forward to those snuggling moments. I was the mama rocking her newborn at 3:00am reminding myself to do that very thing: to memorize the ten tiny pounds on my chest, the entire hand that wrapped around my one finger. 

I pay attention to every single moment.  I am aware of the minutes that somehow turn into days, weeks & years, and I love those moments because they define our family.

What about those moments that are hard? What about those minutes you do not cherish and the days that are not precious? What do those criticizing strangers say about those?

Like this weekend when my 7, 5, & 3 year olds would not listen, would not stop tattletaling & would not stop fighting. To top it off I was also dealing with my 1 year old, who has had double ear infections for what I can only bet is 2 months, screaming & clinging to my leg every time I stopped for two seconds. I had finally had enough when two of the three fought & pushed one into the innocent third one knocking him into the bed only to his head. I shut their doors, went into my room & I screamed ," I'm done with you, and promptly shut myself in our bedroom drinking Mt. Dew until I regained my sanity.

Or when we were at Winco & they were fighting over who had to get in & who was holding the sides of the grocery cart, that they ran into the people in front of them, while I was getting something off a shelf, & we got that "take care of your out of control kids" look.

Or during a day that I had gotten 1 hour of sleep the night before & my nerves & anxiety had reach its capacity and I was confronted with two completely demanding toddlers and I screamed Can’t you just go take care of yourself for awhile?!

Or the time that my 5 year old put a hot wheels car in the microwave and pushed start. It started on the microwave on fire & he blamed it on his 3 year old brother. 15 minutes later he copped up to it & you wonder if all that talking about lying & truth telling even made a difference with him. 

What about those moments that are just hard? What do we do then? Is it really even feasible to enjoy those?

Those moments when you feel like a failure of a mother. When you feel like you did not love them nearly as much or you ignored their needs far to much. When your patience slipped, when your words made them tear up & run away. 

But here’s the thing about moments: they have this way of moving. They tick and they flash and they creep by. Every single one of them. These moments are going to happen whether we want them to or not, whether we are ready for them or not. Some are going to be easier to enjoy than others, some are going to sting more than others, some will be more precious than others.

We are trying so very hard to not miss these moments because in our heart of hearts we know that the advice is true: time does fly, moments do pass, we should enjoy these moments. We know that time works on its own schedule, speeding up when we want it to slow down and crawling by when we need it to fly.

But here’s the thing: we’re not going to enjoy every moment. We’re just not. Because being a mama is hard. It just is.

So to the exhausted mamas and the new ones and the barely surviving ones and the sick ones and the obsessive ones and the ones at the end of her rope and the ones surviving on caffeine, forget about trying to enjoy every moment. It will be one more thing you feel like is one of those building blocks of mothrhood. 

Here’s what you need to know instead: you already are a good mother. You love your kids fiercely, and that is what counts.

So what if we reframe the word enjoy? What if instead of trying to enjoy every single moment, we lean into them instead?  What if we learn from those rough patches & be strong. It is an act of bravery in affirming that you are more than the sum of your terrible minutes. It is an act of courage to dig deep into each and every moment even if there are a few thorns.

And so now, when I am confronted with the whining and the bickering and the exhaustion and the worry and the fears threatening to take over, I will look for something new. I will look for what I can embrace within the moment: the chocolate staining her cheek from when she snuck a bite of cookie, new words like appetizer and ridiculous that she tries on for size even though they completely don’t fit, the other one’s new favorite skill of climbing up the frame of the door frames or even just maybe try to laugh instead of cry at how terribly out of control the day has gone.

Because I want to know that I lived completely whole. I want to know that my boys are offered everything, whether it makes a mess or not. Even through these little years that can be so very exhausting. Even through moments that threaten my very sanity. Even then.

And so the next time someone tells you to enjoy this just as you are about ready to scream at somebody, simply smile and say “I will.” And then with every ounce of courage within you: don’t let the hard day win, look for one teeny tiny moment you can grasp within all the crying and screaming & just embrace motherhood and all it entails. 


  1. I totally agree with you - it's basically impossible to enjoy every moment. Not all moments of parenthood are created equal, and the ones that involve yelling, and tears, and vomit or pooh should just be forgotten as quickly as possible. Selective memory is very handy ;)

  2. I don't have kids, but my three best friends do and I've seen them and heard them express these same exact thoughts. You're not alone in your feelings and I can promise you that you're an amazing mom and your kids are going to look back and remember the moments that you laughed with them and made their booboos go away before they'll remember the ones where you lost your cool. Thank you for being so open and honest in your posts :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing. I think it's important to remember that not every moment with children is perfect and "this too shall pass." Thank you for being so honest. My first will be arriving in about a month, and I am sure I will have lots of these less than perfect moments.

  4. Wise words there mama. You are in the trenches and your heart is real in your sharing. I find myself telling new moms in that in the midst of the worse days to hold onto the 3 second of them cooing happily or looking into your eyes because you need those moments to cling to when you are ready to hid under your covers. Being a mama is not easy. Because human nature is sinful and raising a decent human being is hard. Thank you for sharing your heart and great words of encouragement!