“Treasure EVERY moment?” Really?
OK, all you nice old ladies out there. Listen up!!! Please stop telling all the moms with babies and toddlers to “Treasure every moment. It passes so quickly. This time when they’re little is so precious!” Yeah, yeah, yeah…
Perhaps you’ve forgotten how challenging it might be to treasure the many sleepless middle of the night moments, or temper tantrum moments or cracked nipple moments or baby screaming while you try to take a shower moments or …..(You know I could go on!)
I know I sound cranky and I know you mean well. And I know there is a wonderful kernel of good advice in what you are saying.
However… mothers so often put so much pressure on themselves. As the mom of babies and toddlers, it’s so easy, in the midst of the mess and the chaos, to feel like you’re not doing it right. You should be more calm and cheerful. You should be enjoying it more. You should be treasuring every moment.
As a psychotherapist, I work a lot with moms who are struggling. Good, smart, devoted moms who are having a hard time. They are struggling to keep their heads above water. They are questioning themselves and comparing themselves to others. This is not a rare experience!
And I remember struggling. I remember feeling so sleep deprived that I felt like I had the flu and probably having some days when I wasn’t able to treasure any moment much less every moment.
Now, let me be clear, I am a big, huge fan of being present in the moment and savoring the treasures that are there. I’ll never forget looking down into my babies’ eyes while nursing and just falling into the beauty of that gaze. I’ll never forget the sound of my baby’s laughter or feeling the warmth of their soft, warm bodies snuggled up to mine. But, it isn’t ALL like that and I feel protective of moms who care SO MUCH about being good moms and get bombarded by unrealistic messages and expectations about what being a good mom should be like.
So, nice old ladies, (yeah, I know I’m coming into the old lady category myself, which is partly why I give myself permission to speak to you like this)… next time those words “oh, be sure to enjoy every single moment when they are little” start to come out of your mouth, pause and consider. Look closely at this mom that you are about to address. Remember that she is a unique person having a particular day and your comments may either make her day a little easier or a little harder. Don’t project your nostalgia about the idealized memories of your early mothering onto her life. Smile. Say hello. Maybe say something like, “I remember how wonderful AND challenging those days could be when my kids where little. How’s your day going today?”