“The days are long, but the years are short.”
“You’re going to miss this.”
“Treasure every moment.”
There are some people that would have you believe that every moment of your child’s life is to be remembered and held sacred. That you should never wish away any age or stage. That years from now you will wish you could go back in time to get back to today.
And I get what they’re saying, I really do. And I’ve only been on this motherhood journey for a little over 3 years (my daughter is 2 1/2 so you’d better believe I’m counting from when she was conceived, because that’s when I became a mama). And I even mostly agree with their overall message.
But coming from a mama that’s “in the trenches” with a baby and a toddler, I’m pretty sure I can politely disagree. Because there have been (and will be) moments that I will not treasure and hope to just forget. That there will be stages that I just focus on getting to the other side of. That there will be many days that I just “survive”.
Now, I know there are probably some experienced moms and grandmas shaking their heads at me already. And I will concede that maybe, just maybe, thirty years from now I will have to delete this post because it is just all wrong. But hear me out.
I get sentimental every time I have to trade out my kids’ clothes for a bigger size. I try to keep track of as many of the “lasts” that I can, just as much as the “firsts”. I do my best to be “intentional” during the day with my two littles and say YES when I can to reading and puzzles and “if you try to put me down I will cry”.
And I absolutely believe that there are moments to be treasured. Oftentimes those are the moments that get me through some of the difficult stuff. I hold on to Benji resting his head just so on my neck and under my chin or standing in his crib and squealing in delight at the sight of me and holding his arms out for me to pick him up. I hold on to Ellery taking my hand and asking me to dance with her, or smiling at me and telling me she loves me unprompted. I melt when I see how much they adore each other and I hope that it never ends and that they are always close friends. I love those moments. And I am blessed with so many! And I have so many more to look forward to!
But I think it’s okay to give ourselves permission to not treasure all of the moments. Like when you start feeding your baby solids (yay!) and then immediately regret it at the following diaper change. It can be easy as a mom to hear the message of “treasure every moment” and think that if I struggle that I’m not being a good mom. Let me weave you a tale.
It’s the day before Valentine’s Day and your sweet husband asks if you want to go to an all-you-can-eat chili dinner at a local church. “Sounds great,” you say. “Should we bring the kids or find a sitter?” the sweet man asks. Your resounding last words pop right out of your mouth, “Oh, let’s bring them.”
The four of you enjoy dinner together. Sure, there is some juggling of the baby who keeps grabbing your bread and eating part of it while most of it falls in a crumby mess on the floor. Of course, the toddler decides to sit on your lap while she eats her ketchup laden hotdog and you are forced to sneak in bites with your wrong hand. You expect that when you get your dessert that half of it will be greedily snatched up by said toddler as she holds a cupcake in the other hand.
But, you take all of that in stride because your incredibly handsome husband is helping you and you EXPECTED all of that to happen. Sharing your meal is nothing new. Making a mess is part of your itinerary.
But, this next part, takes you by complete surprise.
The baby is getting antsy and wants to be out of the high chair. The toddler is all done eating and very uninterested in the coloring book you brought for her and wants to get up out of her chair. You smile at your loving partner and say, “It’s okay I’ll just walk with them.” You weave in and out of people with trays of food chasing the toddler and holding the baby. She spots a long hallway and starts trotting down it, which you foolishly think is a good idea because then you are away from all of the people and she can get some of her energy out. It is only when you are at the absolute other end of the hallway, seemingly miles away from where the people (and your husband) are that she yells out, “I need to pee on potty!”
No worries. You are literally feet away from the women’s room. But then she yells it again and sounds much more worried and starts walking with her feet apart like some dribbles have already happened. You glance down the hallway hoping to see hubby or ANYONE, but you are sadly all alone. You fling open the door and blurt out instructions while trying to figure out WHERE TO PUT THE BABY! She yells again and has her legs out as far as she can. You put the baby down as far away from germs as possible but still IN the bathroom with you as you try to tell the toddler to hold it. Well you would, but you can already see liquid streaming down her stockings. You yank down the dripping tutu and undies and stockings as she continues to yell and pee (on you) and put her on the toilet so she can finish and QUICKLY grab the baby that is speed crawling towards the puddle of pee.
Then, you have a less than stellar moment as a mom as you reprimand your toddler for peeing the floor or at least for not telling you sooner.
And reprimand is a kind word and not truthful. I yelled.
It came after a long day after a LONG week, and it just felt like the bale of straw that was thrown onto the camel’s already broken back. The hubby did find me (I don’t know how and I am so thankful) and got the clean change of clothes that was in the car (that he put there a while ago—THANK YOU) and took Benji so I could help her change.
Yes, that might end up being a funny story later on(okay, it is a little bit funny now that it’s over) , but that MOMENT is not one that I will treasure. Not that feeling of wanting to give up. Not that regret at showing my frustration at my sweet girl and in front of them both.
I think it’s okay to admit that I will be glad when potty training mishaps are a thing of the past and when I can go a day without being pooped on/spit up on/etc. Or, wonder of all wonders, when I can sleep through the night uninterrupted.
Will I miss when they were babies and toddlers and every stage in between and after? YES. Do I let the non-treasurable moments define me or my motherhood journey? NO! You’d better believe that I apologized to my little girl and explained how we could have done things differently and told her I loved her and had her crawl on me for most of the rest of the night.
The sweet hubby put her to bed tonight and when she said her bedtime prayers the first thing out of her mouth was, “Thank you for not peeing on the floor.”
I am so thankful for these days and weeks and years through all the hard and the messy and the beautiful. I am thankful that I get the privilege to even have these two blessings that call me their mama. But I’m not going to force myself to believe that I should treasure every moment. And neither should you.
There is GRACE. There is so so much beauty and wonder and sweetness. There is strength that you didn’t know you had and infinite reserves of strength waiting for you from your heavenly Father.