I have five kids. They are relatively close in age, with a mere ten years between first and last.
When they were young, it was not uncommon for me to get looks from people of all ages and backgrounds when I was out and about with three or four little kids in tow. You know the kind of looks that I am talking about…the ones that say, “What were you thinking when you had ALL those kids?”
I often got comments like “You look way too young to have so many kids.” I took those observations as a compliment. Or, my favorite…”Are you babysitting?”
I got a kick out of the looks of amazement when I proudly stated that they were all mine, which was usually followed by comments such as “You sure have your hands full.”
There were also those occasions when I would be wrestling my little ones in the grocery store, trying to squelch the latest tantrum because I wouldn’t buy that candy bar or toy, when some well-meaning individual, usually a woman whose kids were all grown, would smile and say, “Enjoy it while you can. They grow up so fast, and you will miss these days.”
I would always politely say, “Yes, I will try,” while thoughts of “She has got to be crazy for telling me that right now,” raced through my mind.
I think it was apparent to those sweet women that I was NOT enjoying motherhood when they saw me sweating and frazzled while trying to attempt what should have been a simple task – grocery shopping. With four children in tow, it seemed more like an Olympic sport to me.
Now that I am a few years removed from those crazy hard years, I can understand why those sweet women would look at me nostalgically while I struggled with my little ones and tell me to enjoy it. Those years DO go fast, even though it feels like they will never end while you are in the middle of them.
Before you know it, those impossible little ones will be heading off the high school, and you will wonder where the time went. You, like me, will look back on those years, and you will miss them…parts of them anyway.
You will miss the nights of rocking that baby to sleep. You will even miss the middle of the night feedings when it was just you, baby, and a quiet house. You will miss standing by and watching that little one sleep, wondering what the future held in store for them.
You will miss snuggling with that chubby little toddler after they wake up from a nap and are still just a little groggy. You will miss having one or two little ones on your lap while you read “Good Night Moon” for the one millionth time.
You will miss the sticky kisses and hugs, and the “You are my best friend, Mommy,” that followed. You will miss the adorable little laughs, and the lazy afternoon trips to the park when you had nothing else to do.
There are many things that you will miss when those little kids grow up.
But I can tell you that you will NOT miss the tantrums in the middle of the grocery store. You will NOT miss the kicking and screaming on the living room floor because you would not hand out cookies before dinner.
You will NOT miss trying to get a screaming toddler into a car seat while they arch their back and do everything in their power to get away. You will NOT miss having two or three crying children pulling at your legs while you are trying to make an important phone call.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Motherhood is not about constantly enjoying yourself. It is not about lollipops and rainbows with pots of gold at the end of each day. There are times when it is just plain HARD.
There are times when you are exhausted and feel like you don’t have one more ounce of energy to give anybody, especially your children. There are times when you wonder why in the world you chose this path because you were not fully aware that it would be quite so demanding all the time.
There are times when it is lonely, unappreciated, monotonous work, and you wonder if you are doing ANY good at all because it doesn’t seem like your children are capable of being taught any semblance of civility.
But there is no shame in feeling that way from time to time. It happens to ALL mothers.
I feel like there is this huge pressure to enjoy every moment of motherhood because it passes so quickly and you only get one shot to make it great. But then when you have a bad day…or week…or month…it is easy to feel guilty because you are struggling to see the joy, which you are positive means that you are a horrible mother.
Life is not always fun. It is that simple. Some moments just stink, and that is the bottom line.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the difficulties of motherhood are an excuse to mope around and complain to everybody about how hard your life is. I am only saying that you should give yourself room to breathe and room to have a bad day every now and again, without feeling guilty about not constantly having the time of your life.
Today I am here to tell you that you do NOT have to enjoy every moment of motherhood to make the overall experience fantastic. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty if you are not loving the difficult stage that your child is in as much as you feel like you should. It will pass soon enough, so hang on and do the best you can.
But, man alive, savor the good times as much as you can. Enjoy those nighttime snuggles. Enjoy those bedtime stories. Enjoy those hugs and kisses. Enjoy the wonder in their eyes and those adorable laughs that you can’t hear without laughing as well.
Those are the things that you will miss, and those are the things that your memories of motherhood will be made up of one day. You will look back and think to yourself, “Those were good years.”
Those sweet, wonderful memories will perhaps even tempt you, when you are grocery shopping many years down the road, to look nostalgically at the young mother struggling with her children and say:
“Enjoy these days, honey. They go by so fast.”