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I'm Sorry It Offended You When I Said to Enjoy Every Minute

Photograph by Instagram

Dear new mom,

I'm sorry it annoyed you when I looked at your children and told you to enjoy every minute because they grow up so fast. I wasn't there when your baby had a diaper blowout the one time you forgot the diaper bag at home. I wasn't there when your toddler decided that the grocery store check out lane was the perfect place to assert herself because you denied her bubble gum. I wasn't there when you canceled your dinner date with your girlfriends again because your baby refuses to take a bottle.

I missed seeing the angst on your face when you called your boss to let them know you wouldn't make it into the office again. Your preschooler started school, which means they're sick seemingly every other week and by default, so are you. I also wasn't around when you and your husband found yourselves at odds because you keep putting the kids first. "They'll only be little for a short time," you say. I wasn't there when you cried yourself to sleep last night because somewhere along the way, it feels like you've lost a little bit of who you are. You love your babies fiercely but you sometimes mourn who you once were.

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Instead I see you and your precious little one or ones all smiles, and for a moment it appears that I am convinced that all is right within the world—your world. Although I wasn't there to witness the moments that called the preciousness of the early years into question, I want you to know that I'm right there with you in the trenches of motherhood, clawing my way out some days and slowing down to linger other days.

I know sometimes it's irritating when strangers, family and friends stare at your sweet wrinkly newborn or wide-eyed wonder of a toddler declaring that these are the days. Do they know that you fish things out of the bathtub that no one should ever have to fish? But they—these days—really truly are the days. We say it because it's true.

We want the most trying times to end so badly that we sometimes forget to savor the best of times.

Over the past few months there have been times when I've wanted to tell other mothers to enjoy their babies but I stayed silent because the Internet has told me that it's wrong to do so, that you hate it. Truth be told I didn't even enjoy every moment of motherhood. I don't enjoy every moment. But I certainly try to. Some days I fail miserably, and some nights you can find me curled up beside my children apologizing. Still my effort to make the most of each moment helps me to savor the sweetest ones.

We live in a world that is beautiful yet immensely broken. There are very few things that are in my control. As someone who wants to have control of all the things, I tend to struggle with that. But what is in my control is my ability to cherish my babies. And when I encourage you to enjoy this time, I'm not demanding that you enjoy each and every moment or implying that you're a bad mother if you don't.

I just hope that you'll slow down a bit, that the chaos of life won't always be a barrier to your joy. It is my wish for you, that even in the most trying times, you will extend grace to your children and to yourselves and that you will enjoy as many moments as you possibly can. That's really what I'm saying but in fewer words.

Think of the waiter who brought you a delicious piece of cake for dessert and said "enjoy" as they sat it down. Will you inhale every bite in an effort to get it over with or will you savor it, making each calorie count? You weren't mad at the waiter either were you? He was coming from a good place and chances are, he's had the cake. He knows how delicious it is and hopes that you find it delicious, too.

Motherhood can be so delicious. And yet most often we inhale too deeply—too quickly—causing it to pass us by in a fury. We want the most trying times to end so badly that we sometimes forget to savor the best of times. My hope is that you persevere through the storms so that you might be able to later dance in the puddles that remain with your babies.

I say enjoy every moment because I look around each day and see mothers just like me who were not afforded another moment with their babies. They thought they would enjoy their children and motherhood later, at an easier stage but never got the chance.

I say enjoy every moment because I yelled at my tween before school and it has been weighing on me all day. I get to set the tone for her mornings, and each day she grows it feels as if she is venturing further and further from my grasp.

I say enjoy every moment because my 3-year-old tells me that she can do just about everything by herself. And some days when I drop her off at daycare she doesn't look back. Other days she clenches to me tightly and my heart sinks as the teacher gently pulls her away.

I say enjoy every moment because I know one day I will give anything to clean finger prints off the mirror or to have a day when my biggest worry was how I was going to explain to my tween for the 20th time why she isn't ready for her own Instagram account just yet. I say enjoy every moment because not long ago I was reminded that time isn't something I'm entitled to—it's a gift.

While our highlight reel may not be magical and picture perfect, I'm determined not to allow it to be a blur.

I understand that it's not possible to enjoy every single moment. I know that life isn't as simple and carefree and beautiful as Instagram will lead you to believe. But what if we're just looking at it the wrong way? Maybe our desire to do everything right, or at least appear to be, has made something simple far more complex than it should be. When you remember that something doesn't last forever, you tend to savor the good parts a bit more; the bad ones are quickly fleeting, too.

One day you will wake up, and the days you might have wished away will be gone, so will the ones you once dreamed of. So forgive me when I tell you to enjoy every minute. I'm not trying to annoy you or be the 100th person to remind you of how fast time will go. As if you don't already know. I say it as a mother who already longs for what was while striving to embrace and celebrate what is. I say it as a mother who wishes that she worried and stressed a little less and danced in more puddles. I say it as a mother who realizes that today will one day be a memory etched in the hearts of myself and my children. And while our highlight reel may not be magical and picture perfect, I'm determined not to allow it to be a blur.

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Enjoy as much of this as you can. Motherhood may not always be your favorite gig at every moment, but hold on. I don't want to waste time being frustrated, defeated, mad or texting my husband because he will not believe what my day has been like. I want to pursue joy and grab a hold of it when it is before me. Rarely do we get those perfect days, but sprinkled in even the worst of days are pieces to hold onto, to cherish. Because as Gretchen Rubin said, "The days are long but the years are short."

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