I am not one of those mamas who advises others to “enjoy every minute” of parenting. While I know all too well that the years are short, I cannot honestly say that I enjoy every minute of parenting, and advising others to do so feels more than a touch hypocritical. I believe there are mamas in the world who can truly appreciate each moment with their kiddos; it’s just that I’m not one of them. I do not enjoy temper tantrums, and I do not enjoy cleaning up vomit. I do not enjoy Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, and I’m fairly confident that if one of my children ever comes home with lice again, I will just torch the house and rebuild from the ground up.
But I also know that time has a funny way of messing with our heads. In the tumult of a struggle, it’s so easy to wistfully dream of days already gone by. For some, maybe it’s the days of younger years when your time was filled with whatever YOU wanted to fill it with. Independence looks sweeter in the rearview mirror than it felt at the time. For others, maybe it’s the days early in your relationship when you and your spouse could really focus on one another. The thing is, when I had independence, I longed for what I have now. A family. The pitter-patter of little feet.
The good old days are now.
I don’t want to spend my time either longing for the past OR for the future…when my kids can take care of themselves, or are potty-trained, or get along better. Because I KNOW that when those days come, I’m in danger of longing for what I have today. When the fog of time turns “last Tuesday” into “two years ago…or was it three?” there are things that I want to remember about this season.
I hope I’ll remember how fiercely and soul-crushingly little ones love their mamas.
Several times a day, my youngest will spontaneously say, “hi, mama” or “love you, mama” as if to ensure that I’m still there. Still paying attention. Sometimes it takes everything in me not to melt into the floor. This same child regularly screams with his full lung capacity if his daddy gives him a cup that he had intended mama to get. While it’s true that sometimes mama just needs a minute, it feels good to be loved and needed so fervently. The pudge of little arms and hands around my neck is perhaps the sweetest gift in my days.
I hope I’ll remember how FUNNY middle school kids are.
I’m not going to tell you that the pre-teen/early teen years are easy. Spoiler alert: they’re not. But man alive, I wish I hadn’t dreaded them so much! These kids are hilarious. My oldest comes home from school with stories that make me laugh until my belly hurts. And the best part is, most of the time I’m genuinely laughing WITH these kids, rather than AT them.
I hope I’ll remember the little details of our kids’ young selves.
They are each so unique and quirky. I hope that when they have children of their own, I can tell my grandchildren about how their daddy could make elk sounds before he could talk. They might like to hear about how their mama was always the last one at the dinner table because she kept trying to sneak a book into her lap. Or they might laugh about their daddy’s “fashion sense”. We do spiky hair and bowties over here. Sometimes with a dinosaur t-shirt.
I hope I’ll remember that sometimes a hard reset cures all. We do dance parties in our house. When someone (including me) is just grumpy and can’t snap out of it, we crank up the music. My middle child still, years later, talks about my dance rendition of “Run, Run, Rudolph”. Trust me, you’re not missing out. But my kids…they laugh every time. Sometimes, we have to change our behavior before our attitudes change.
There are no perfect seasons in life. There are bitter moments, and sweet moments, and everything in between. Some entire seasons of life are just plain miserable, and seeking out the sweet may seem impossible. If this is the case for you right now, I beg you to cover yourself with grace. You’re not going to enjoy every minute of parenting, and that does NOT make you a bad mom. It makes you human. And if this is not the case for you right now – your season of life isn’t miserable – I beg you to tuck away memories deep into your heart. You will want them later.
Wishing you a million things that you hope you’ll never forget, mama.