Mostly making the most of it
When I was brand new at this whole mothering gig, the advice “it goes so fast, cherish every minute” used to sound like an admonishment. If I was feeling particularly hostile, it sounded like an accusation.
Of course, as those words washed over me, I might well have been covered in some sort of smelly fluid and extremely sleep deprived. Such is mothering.
Contrary to even my own pre-partum expectations, I was most certainly not enjoying every single minute of motherhood, and I was angry at having something else to add to my list of things to feel guilty about.
Half a decade and two kids later, I’m thinking I over-reacted to strangers who encouraged me to keep in mind what matters most. Of course, I’m getting more sleep these days, and that may be directly proportional to my improved state of mind.
Still, as my friends are having brand new babies and lamenting the lost sleep and all the ways a tiny, little person can make simple things like showering and running an errand difficult, I’m surprised to catch that same advice on the tip of my tongue.
I’ve decided to modify the aforementioned message by taking a page out of the French writer Voltaire’s book. As he advised, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
If we can strive to enjoy most of the moments most of the time, I’d say we have the makings of a pretty happy life.
Of course, while the days of sweeping up Cheerios and changing diapers every time I turn around are behind me, I’m still stepping on Legos and slipping on Matchbox cars. So I might still be too close to the action to have much perspective.
Even this close to the starting line, I’m already finding I’ve forgotten how hard it was in those early days. Instead, I feel myself longing for some of those sweet moments I remember, even if I didn’t exactly cherish them at the time.
That actually gives me hope that my kids will cherry-pick their childhood memories — hope they will mostly remember me the way I want them to instead of as the mom who lost her patience at the first hint of whining.
I can honestly say I’ve come to accept motherhood as a seesaw of awesome and awful — all day, every day. That’s just how it is, because instead of a television show featuring caricatures of people, I am parenting in real life with no commercial breaks.
Even when parenting doesn’t go from awesome to awful in the time it takes to turn your back, you’re still dealing with human beings, not puppets. So things can go sideways with no warning, and often do.
For example, we’re almost out the door. Everybody is clean, dressed and fed. Except Jake has no shoes.
He wants to wear his red boots. And not his red rubber boots, his red cowboy boots. So now there are tears.
This gives Sam time to remember he wanted to bring his special Lego guy to show his friends. It isn’t easy to locate, as it looks as if someone broke into our house and trashed the playroom overnight. So now there are more tears.
They eventually dry up, thanks to the fact we eventually found the right red boots and Sam decided he could bring something else along.
As I catch them in the rearview mirror, singing along to the Imagination Movers, I think this is a pretty good gig after all.
And so it goes. Every. Single. Day.
Except now, I can say I enjoy most of it. Most of the time. And that’s good enough for us.
Nathalie Hardy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.