This weekend yet another (I’m sure well-meaning) person came up to me and let out a stream of air. That’s the sign, right? You know it’s coming. She looked at me, then my kids and said, “These days. These days are the best. Enjoy these days. Enjoy every moment.”
I found myself hurled from my chair, happily watching my kids swim into a tailspin. Am I not enjoying these days? Should I be doing more? Should I be in the water at this very moment playing another round of Marco Polo? Should I be inside preparing an organic fruit bowl for a snack? Should I be lathering sunscreen and making sure they drink enough water? What do you mean, enjoy every moment? And, by saying that, are you implying that I’m not?
I mean, yes, these days have challenges. The tantrums. The whining. The laundry. The house. The job. The work. The career. Making sure our kids have enough to do but aren’t over-scheduled. Are they healthy? Are they happy? Are they learning enough? Too much? Are our limits on screen time too strict? (Ha! That’s actually not something I worry about). Finances (By the way…how the hell are we going to afford college?) So, yes. There are worries and stresses and hardships.
Which is why that comment, that unexpected and unwelcome advice, got under my skin. I immediately started feeling…guilty. Aha. Could this be the root of all mom guilt? This immense pressure that we must ENJOY. EVERY. MINUTE. What does that even look like? Is it more than sitting beside the pool, watching my kids swim, feeling the sun on my face, and simply feeling grateful for this moment?
While I cannot and will not force myself to enjoy every moment, I can feel grateful for every breath. I can breathe in gratitude and blessings that fill my life. Gratitude grounds me. It connects me to God, to my family, to the big and small things in my life. Even in the hardest of moments, gratitude is possible.
Maybe the most authentic thing to say to parents raising young kids is:
Give yourself grace.
You’re doing great.
Do you need more wine? ;)