So. Guys. There’s something that’s been going on recently, and it’s been bothering me. I’ve talked to a couple of people about it, and MOSTLY I am probably in the wrong, or at least in the minority, with my opinion, but I want to explain WHY I feel the way I feel and maybe hear from the handful of people who are on my side. Or perhaps I’m looking to be convinced by the people on the opposing side why I’m WRONG.
Now, normally when you come around here or any other blog sort of like this one where we’re big on BRINGING THE LAUGHS, this would segue into some sort of flighty, traditionally unimportant topic. This is ACTUALLY, for once, a more serious thing I’m talking about. Though not really all that serious. No life or death involved. Well, sort of both life and death, but not life OR death, which is a bit more pressing.
An article/blog post went viral recently, and the gist of it was that as mothers, we are too often told to “enjoy every moment!” and “seize the day!” by strangers, usually old ladies in the grocery store, when they see us out with our children. The general consensus seems to be that this is annoying, it’s intrusive, it’s rude, and it’s unrealistic; it is impossible to enjoy EVERY moment of motherhood. (Note: I’m not linking to that post because some things have come to light recently about the author and possible plagiarism in other pieces, so let’s just NOT go there.)
Which, truthfully, I don’t take issue with. Of course no one enjoys every moment of ANYTHING. No matter what the best day of your life was, you probably didn’t ENJOY using the toilet or that one sneezing fit or the car that cut you off in traffic. OBVIOUSLY, right?
The thing is, I can’t help but put myself behind the eyes of every person who has ever said this sort of thing to me. I instantly flash forward and imagine my children all grown and gone from the home. Maybe they’ll be married and have children, maybe they’ll all choose to remain childless, maybe they’ll struggle with infertility, maybe we will be estranged for one reason or another, or maybe I’ll just be melancholy over this part of my life being over. And then there is a woman out with her three beautiful children, in the PRIME of her life, really in the thick of things, LIVING even though every day is filled with chores and dirty diapers and screaming and tantrums and fights over the stupidest things imaginable. It will take EVERYTHING in me not to run up to her and grab her by the shoulders and tell her to HANG ON TO THESE MOMENTS, FOR THEY ARE TOO FEW.
I won’t, though! I promise.
What I am telling you here, though, is that I am in PRE-MOURNING for this part of my life. This is IT, this is what I have always wanted. It is ten million times harder than I ever imagined it would be, and it has me exhausted to my core. It has me filled with more worry than I knew I could carry. It has pushed me to my limits and beyond those limits, and I am saying this in a way I do not intend to be taken romantically. The last seven months since Leo was born? The HARDEST months of my life. OBVIOUSLY I did not cherish every bowl of oatmeal or bowl of rice and peas or bowl of ANYTHING BECAUSE THE ONLY THINGS I COULD EAT WERE SERVED IN BOWLS while watching my family eat pizzas and cakes and other assorted foods that required chewing. Of course I didn’t. And I am not insisting that any of you — any of us — should be counting your blessings every single second of your incredibly difficult days.
Just … it is HARD. It is SO SO HARD.
But, you know? I’m pretty sure all of us are going to miss some part of it. I am NOT a baby person, not at all. I cannot wait for Leo to turn one. I mean, I am practically wishing this entire year AWAY. I wouldn’t mind taking a nap from now until July 6th, thank you very much.
What got me thinking about this was a tiny little moment in the middle of the night last night. Leo got two immunizations yesterday. This was his second round with these two particular shots, and it was those shots that gave him a high (102+) fever last time. That was when we tried the HA HA corn-free acetaminophen. We were told this time that he needn’t be medicated for fever unless it got that high again, and by 10PM last night, he was at 100.9. I spent the entire night with the AC cranked and the fan on with my pitiful baby wearing a onesie beside me in the bed nursing while I kept him cooled down with a damp washcloth on his sizzling forehead. I barely slept, fretting in the dark that I’d have to give my baby medication that was sure to make him more miserable than the fever. I was MISERABLE and I HATED THE WORLD. I hated everything and everyone and I started thinking about the ladies in the grocery store with the love in their eyes telling me to cherish every moment.
Then I thought about Vio, 5 years old and down the hall in her own bed, who does not want to be touched if she is sick. Vio who had a tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy, her second one already. And I was already that lady in the grocery store, telling MYSELF to cherish this moment, because that little girl was just this little boy. She JUST WAS. They are only a month off being exactly 5 years apart, and we find ourselves looking from one to the other in awe. Look at her! Five years ago, she was learning to sit up, and now she is READING US BOOKS! Etc. etc. etc.
I guess what I am getting at here is that I get it. I get why they do it. And it’s FINE if it bothers you when they say it to you, it’s just that I don’t think they mean it that way. Swistle wrote a great post recently about this where she talked about how we need to weigh the INTENTIONS along with the words they are saying. I wholeheartedly agree.
MY intention in writing this is not to guilt anyone who currently is NOT loving every moment. FAR FROM IT, as I hope I’ve made clear with the admission that I am most definitely not doing that myself. I have this problem, and when I tell you what it is, I’m going to sound like I’m trying to pass off a strength as a weakness or like when you answer that question about your flaws in a job interview and you say, “Oh, I’m a PERFECTIONIST,” but I promise you I am not. The thing is that I am fair to a fault. It sounds like a positive thing, but it has cost me more friends that I could possibly comment on here. Once, when confronted with the end of a friendship, I asked the question WHY? What had I done wrong? “It’s just … you’re always the bearer of bad news.” See, someone would come to me with a problem they’d had with someone else, and instead of being supportive, I would IMMEDIATELY try to see it from the other person’s side. I would put myself in BOTH sets of shoes, shoes that had no business being on my feet at all, and then WORSE, I would start in on my friend. Kindly, of course, but completely without regard for it being what the other person needed to hear. It’s something I fight like hell now that I realize how obnoxious it must be. It is something I have gotten more successful at pushing out of my head over the years, but it still creeps into my personal relationships far too often. Because I think I am being helpful! I only realize much later that it wasn’t the case at all.
That right there, now that I think about it, is the root of why I am writing this at all. I see people forming an angry mob against these (I’m assuming) well-meaning people and their well-meaning comments, and all my instincts tell me to DEFEND them and put me in their shoes. I think they’re right at the same time I think it is perfectly right to be annoyed and furious at all they have to say. I am here now living moments that drag on horribly and I am there looking back at a lifetime of moments that passed in an instant.
So, I don’t know. I DO carpe diem. I want to carpe the HELL out of all the diems I can. For me, anyway, it is so much better to be the one hearing the words “Cherish every moment” than the one speaking them.