A dear friend of mine sent out a S.O.S./rant/talk-me-off-my-mom-ledge text the other day. It was along the lines of:
“I’m over being guilted into savoring every moment. ‘Cherish this, it might be their last’ phrases are making me insane.”
Dear loves. I so very very very very closely remember those feelings.
I distinctly remember there was an article going around about “the last time” mentality. Always say yes to your child because it might be the last time they ask. You’ll never know it’s the last time they ask because all the sudden you’ll realize that they haven’t asked you to brush their hair, or sing them a song, or “hold you mama” and you’ll regret that you ever said no, or not right now, or even worse…had a bad attitude (gasp!) while you did the thing they asked for.
I remember reading that article while I had a 5 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, a 17 month old and a baby or maybe it was when I had a 7 year old, a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 year old. Which then were perfectly echo’d with, “How am I supposed to cherish this moment?” That was usually preceded by some un-godly bodily fluid incident a small person had just had. To my friends defense, that was the exact type of day she was actually having.
It’s such a deep hole we fall down when we make blanket statements like, “Cherish each moment like it will be their last.” I’ve tried very hard to remember that my son won’t ask me to sing to him for too much longer, or maybe he will. Maybe he will be a teen and admit he still needs his mama to sing him his favorite song before he goes to bed. Trying though, doesn’t make it any easier.
While writing this article I’ve had five, yes FIVE, interruptions for things like, “can you put my braid back in,” “my earring fell out,” “I’m hungry.” I’d like to scream at them:
“NO! I just did it.”
“I told you not to play with your earrings!”
“You do know how to find the kitchen right?”
But, I get up and I do those things. Except the I’m hungry cry. Nope. You can find the kitchen child.
Now. I do believe, those in our world who have lost a child, they would repeat every bad moment they had just to have their child in their arms again. I have not lived in that grief or felt the breaking open of your soul that goes with that level of loss, so I can not speak to that. However, I can gain deep respect and perspective for the blessing of my children. Perspective is helpful, but not as a source of guilt. Guilt is from the devil. Let that *ish go.
My advice to her was simple, the 3 am asking for cuddles, the bodily fluids explosions, the endless exhaustion, the ridiculousness of parenting a threenager, all of those moments you will not feel like “cherishing” or finding “joy” in. Raising a threenager gives you battle scars and war wounds that should earn you a medal of valor. You need to allow yourself to have a hard day, and not necessarily be “happy” about the hard days. Some times your life will feel more like indentured servitude rather than the glorious blessing of motherhood everyone seems to portray on social media. Those moments, you aren’t going to love them. Not right now at least.
And that’s okay! Did you hear me say that? That. Is. Okay.
You need to remember little moments, like tiny diamond chips in what feels like a hand full of coal, that you need to cling to. The sad truth is that those moments feel like they take ffffoooorrrreeevvveeerrrr to matter, but once they do, they probably aren’t happening anymore.
I remember every time my kids threw up like they were auditioning for The Exorcist. I remember getting up for 1, 2, 3 a.m. feedings for three years strait because there was a baby in our house from the year 2011-2014. I remember the days of changing three small people’s diapers and it costing us a small fortune. I remember, more like a PTSD flashback, Hazel’s hour long tantrums. I look back on those moments and I remember that I survived that.
Now that my baby is turning five, and my oldest used the phrase, “little kid stuff” (No!!!!! Please, stay a little boy just a little while longer!!!!) I am looking back and longing for the days that felt like a never ending stay in Ground Hogs Day. I can’t go back. I can however remember fondly and cherish the memory. It can remind me that they are truly growing up too fast. That this gift of childhood is for all of us involved. It’s a gift that doesn’t always look nice, sound pleasant, and certainly smells concerning sometimes. But, what a beautiful gift I see that I have.
I now cherish moments that I miss with all my heart. I miss the feeling of a toddler hug. You know those hugs. They wrap their little arms around your neck, barely able to reach, and they squeeze so tight. I miss the feeling of a baby sleeping on my shoulder. I miss rocking my daughters to sleep. I cherish these little voice recordings I took of Hazel and I singing while we rocked, “Baa Baa Black sheep.” The sweetest voice. I miss the ridiculousness of all these small people. Oh wait. We are still ridiculous and now there’s just a lot of ridiculousness with medium people.
I can’t go back and rock my kids anymore. It’s the frustration of time, you don’t know what you had until it’s gone. I resented the exhaustive process of bed time, and I still do at times. The number of times and creative excuses these kids come up with to get out of bed is astounding! But. When all of the sudden you’ve emerged from the foggy marshlands of raising small people to realize you’ve got some awesome medium/big kids on your hands you have some good perspective.
Cherish that snuggle from the girl who never wants to snuggle anymore. Read a novel with the boy who is spending more time in his room all the sudden. Braid her hair. Better yet finally learn how to french braid her hair. Play Minnie-Mouse dollies with the one who is still lingering in the land of littles. Cherish this. It’s going to be over in a moment and you won’t see it coming. Also, lock yourself in the bathroom with the Halloween candy you’ve hidden from your kids and have a good cry on those hard days. Then write it down, and you’ll remember it with a fondness you can’t imagine a few years from now.
You’ve got this mamas. You’ve got this.