March 20, 2014

Three Dreaded Words of Mommyhood: “Enjoy every moment.” Why I don’t, and why I’m totally okay with that

I live in an area with lots of young families. We have almost 40 kids on my little street alone. With so many 20 and 30 somethings, there are always pregnant women in the neighborhood and at church on Sundays. I go to baby showers and see lots of Facebook posts about pregnancies and births. So, inevitably, I often hear and read those three loaded, dreadful words of mommyhood: “Enjoy every moment.”

I hate those three words. I cringe every time I hear them. I feel for the new mother, who, on top of everything else she has to think about, now has to think about enjoying every moment and subsequently feeling guilty when she doesn’t. Doesn’t a new mom have enough to worry about? I think that most of the people who sweetly say, “Enjoy every moment,” fall into three categories: 1) They are old and have selective memory about raising their own children; 2) They don’t have kids; and 3) They feel guilty that they aren’t enjoying every moment with their own children, and desperately think if they say it enough it will come true.

Let’s try an experiment. If there are any fathers reading this, you go home from work and ask your wife if she enjoyed every moment of her day with your four rambunctious children, and then see if she doesn’t haul off and sock you. Men do not say those three words. Men are wise.

Do I enjoy every moment of being a mother? HECK, NO. The first six months of Little Guy’s life were horrendous. He wasn’t a good sleeper, I didn’t know what to do with him, and I had minimal movement and maximum pain from a slow C-section recovery. I wasn’t about to laugh heartily and enjoy the moment when my baby cried in hunger because I couldn’t produce enough milk. I didn’t feel like grinning when he had five colds in four months. I wasn’t celebrating when, on my birthday, all I did was lie on the floor in the baby’s room and cry.

“But that was a bad situation,” you might say. “Surely you enjoy every moment now that he’s older.” And again I say, HECK, NO. Little Guy is two. He clears out every item in his dresser and declares, “Mommy clean it up!” He throws things. He screams. His favorite word is “no.” Don’t get me wrong; he is generally a sweet and good boy. But he has his moments. And I’m expected to enjoy them? Well, I don’t. And that’s okay. Let me repeat: THAT’S OKAY.

God didn’t put us on this earth to live a perfect life of rainbows and butterflies. We’re here to have challenges and trials, to have successes and learn from our failures. Having children does not make us exempt from trials; in fact, it increases them. And you know what? Having bad moments I don’t enjoy helps me enjoy the good moments even more. I don’t enjoy it when Little Guy is sick, but I am extra happy when I hear his infectious laugh when he feels better. I don’t enjoy his tantrums, but I really enjoy his excitement about playing ball with his dad post-tantrum. I admit I don’t enjoy kissing Little Guy’s 574th “owie” of the day (Mother of the Year Award right here, people), but my heart goes pitter-pat when he shyly looks at Husband and me and says, “Family.”

Without the bad, I wouldn’t enjoy the good as much. I don’t necessarily like the bad times, but I appreciate that they make the good times better. So to everyone out there with bad moments—married or single, old or young, with children or without, in school or not, working or not—don’t be like me and get mad when someone tells you to enjoy every moment of your current situation. Just smile and say no thanks. It’s okay. We all have some awesome moments coming our way.

1 comment:

  1. THANK YOU for posting this, Jenny! I saw it on Facebook but didn't have time to comment. One of my co-workers described parenthood as a never-ending roller coaster ride — right after he got a text from his wife saying she'd locked herself in the bathroom and was crying as their two-year-old son screamed and kicked the door.

    I think you're right. The people who say "Enjoy every moment" have forgotten what it's like to have kids (or, in my case, to be pregnant). A lady just asked me if I was loving being pregnant, and when I told her that no, I wasn't, that I felt very uncomfortable and exhausted all the time, she seemed shocked and said, "Well, just try to enjoy it!"

    I wanted to say that it was OK for me not to love every moment of being pregnant. I love feeling the babies kick and seeing how they're growing, but I don't love feeling like I'm lugging a bowling ball around in my stomach or coming home exhausted after just sitting all day at a desk. And it is OK for you not to love every moment of being a mom. I know I won't, either.