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You Don't Have to Enjoy Every Minute

Photograph by Getty Images

Last week, there was a moment that was truly golden. The weather was perfection. It was one of those fall days that makes you love this season the most.

My older daughters (ages 2 and 3) were playing joyfully in the front yard. I was laying in the hammock with my 5-month-old, who was cooing and smiling up at me. The leaves were falling gracefully to the earth and the breeze was just the right amount of movement for an afternoon outdoors. I could hear crickets chirping and birds singing their melodies, and I wished so badly for a pause button I could push so I could soak it all in and enjoy it forever.

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There are so many moments of motherhood that are like this one. Moments that are too good to be true. Moments when you need to pinch yourself to realize you are not in fact dreaming. These are the moments that keep us having babies. These are the moments that make it all worth it. These are the things we want to soak up and cherish and treasure for all of eternity.

There are plenty of moments in motherhood that quite honestly, I could do without. Staying up all night with a sick baby, the ridiculous and nonsensical meltdowns of toddlers, siblings bickering at each other over every little thing, losing my mind and showing my ugly side to my children—these things I need not remember forever. I think you mamas will agree with me.

I've also realized that loving every single minute is just not possible. I would even dare say it's dangerous.

Seasoned mothers have a thing about telling new moms to "soak it all up" and "enjoy every moment." I've gotten this advice time and time again, even from strangers in line at the checkout. Older mothers see the dancing eyes of an infant and are immediately taken back to when their grown children were babes. It goes by so darn fast ...

While I understand their sentiment, I have to raise a sign of caution here. In fact, I need to give you permission—the "OK." You don't have to enjoy every minute. Not at all.

As mothers, we need to give ourselves permission to be real and to be honest. We need to allow ourselves to know the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. We've created a myth that if we're not loving every single moment, we're doing something completely wrong. Somehow, we're supposed to be soaking up every single moment, all while Instagramming it and scrapbooking it away and thanking our lucky stars we get to have this role in the first place.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful to be a mother and I probably take too many photographs of my children. But I've also realized that loving every single minute is just not possible. I would even dare say it's dangerous. If we live life by that standard, we are sure to miss the truly golden moments of parenting.

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When you give yourself permission to be a real person with real feelings, you will find those remarkable, too-good-to-be true, pinch-me moments. You will know the difference between a normal day and one that you'll be reminded of in two decades when you see a young mother at the grocery store with her baby.

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