Enjoy Every Moment? Bah.

We spent eight years childless. We went through 15 (!) rounds of fertility treatments (including two IVF procedures), a miscarriage, an adoption, and a high-risk twin pregnancy that nearly bested me. After all that, you can bet your whatever that I am grateful for my children. Does this mean that I “enjoy every moment”? No, it does not.

I hear that phrase often. A lot of us young (young-ish?) mothers hear it. We hear it in the grocery store, in the check-out line during a tantrum. We hear it at church, when our kids are going three different directions and one of them is saying, “Don’t sing, Momma!” We hear it. Often, the woman who is saying it is a little older than us and has a dreamy look in her eyes. I can tell that she has forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches every day. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’s just realized that the trenches don’t matter and that time passes quickly. (Insert any overused cliché here!) She might be right.

I have heard other moms complain about this “enjoy every moment” thing on blogs and in person and in articles. I am not the first to write about it. Of course we don’t enjoy being up to our elbows (literally?) in poop. Of course we don’t enjoy multiple tantrums in one day (or hour). Of course we don’t enjoy fixing dinner/showering/facebooking while three children cry. Of course we don’t enjoy seeing our husband’s stress and disappointment when he opens the door after work to chaos, dirt, no dinner plan and a wife with dead eyes. So, no, we don’t enjoy every moment.

I used to feel guilty about that. But Okayest Mom is setting the bar lower. Okayest Mom has had an epiphany.

I went to the LDS temple, which is a peaceful place that we Mormons go without our children. It is not church or Sunday services – it is special. I was there for the first time in two years, after the IVF/bedrest/birth/recovery (I need an acronym for that). I was pondering my Mommy Guilt, and I knew it was not a spiritual feeling. I wondered how to deal with it. This scripture came to mind: “Men [& women] are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

“Have joy” was the phrase that warmed my heart. It doesn’t say that we are supposed to be giddy at all hours of the day. “Have joy” maybe means that we feel the joyous moments, that we find joy in our moments. “Have joy” is a thing you can DO, not an emotion that you are supposed to feel. Does that make sense?

For those of you who are not religious, the other phrase that came to mind was from Bob Dylan’s song “Most of the Time”: “I’m halfway content most of the time.” That sums it up pretty well too. He isn’t doing cartwheels either.

If we can be “halfway content most of the time” and find moments that “have joy”, then we can drop the guilt for not “enjoying every moment”. It’s my new goal to REALIZE when I have joy, and appreciate it. I want to notice that moment when I have that momma-gushy-feeling where I feel like I could eat my kids. I want to notice that moment when they squeeze me and I want to die. I want to notice that moment when I know I would take a bullet for them. I want to notice that moment when they say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” or “I like your underwears”.

I’m gonna realize those moments, feel them and appreciate them, and move on.

 

bono

(Okay, okay, here’s me actually ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT. Me + Bono!)

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12 thoughts on “Enjoy Every Moment? Bah.

  1. I needed this tonight. Mine is 15 going on 30 and I love him beyond belief, but there are times I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I wouldn’t trade him for a moment, but I do sometimes enjoy the time with him more after being separated for a few hours in my own peaceful place.

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  2. while reading this, i couldn’t help but think of this kurt vonnegut quote: “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
    as always, i love your honesty!

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  3. While I find it irritating, I find myself more offended, than anything. Being the father of a micropremie, how dare anyone tell me how to manage my emotions. The fact that the PTSD hasn’t completely taken my ability to feel is astounding on its own.
    The sentiment is usually joined at the hip with a sort of condescension and guilt-tripping- An assumption that I’m not grateful for every moment, already.
    And this is where things get me mad enough to fantasise about punching the kind strangers in line at Wal*Mart: When it’s all slapped together with “…it doesn’t last forever. They grow up so fast.” I will never say this to anyone. Are children meant to be loved any less as they progress from infant to toddler and beyond?

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    • That last sentence there (“Are children meant to be loved any less as they progress from infant to toddler and beyond?”) is an excellent point that I hadn’t pondered before. But it sums up how I feel inside- thanks!

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  4. Reblogged this on Positive Parenting and Education and commented:
    I don’t have children. Want them, but haven’t been blessed with them yet. If you’d like to hear my full story head on over to my other blog, Broken Hearted and Empty Armed, and read the My Story post (here’s a link for your convenience: http://wp.me/p3SlhP-3)

    I really enjoyed this blog post, but I think I have a different definition of the phrase “Enjoy Every Moment”. No one particularly loves changing poopy diapers, especially those blow-out kind that get everywhere. No one enjoys tantrums. No one expects moms to feel guilty for needing a break. No one likes to feel as though they have let their spouse down everyday (or even on one of “those” days that nothing seems to go right). The fact of the matter is: with the joys of parenting, you must deal with all these things. If you want to be a parent and get to have the “happy” moments, you will have to handle the other not-so-enjoyable aspects of parenting. I have done daycare in my home for several years (to help fill the void of children in my life). I wouldn’t want to miss a single moment that I’ve enjoyed with those children (not even the cleaning up that explosion of a poopy diaper, not even a single day the kids would constantly be crying or fighting, or not even a single time my husband would come home and ask, “So, what DID you do today? It sure doesn’t look like you did anything to me!”). Folks, ALL of that is worth it to be a parent!! Maybe I have skewed vision since I don’t have any children that are with me 24/7, but I’ve spent weeks at a time with kids (day and night) and I truly don’t believe my opinion would change a bit if I did have kids. You must truly “enjoy” the unpleasant moments because without them you could never, ever “enjoy” the pleasant ones. What you have is precious, more precious than you will ever know. Take it from someone who knows, who feels the pain of not getting to “enjoy” those moments, and who longs to change diapers (even the explosion ones), to sooth crying babies/toddlers, and to teach them, gently, more appropriate ways to communicate when they are sad or angry. It kind of goes with that old saying, “you never know what you have/had until it’s gone or until you don’t have it anymore”. Always knowing the blessing of what you’ve been given, even when it isn’t what we dreamed it would be, is a hard, but necessary thing to do in order to achieve true joy in life.

    NOTE: Please understand, I am not saying this blog is wrong in any way. This is how this mother and, as she mentions, many moms feel. And that is truly okay. I just hope I have shed a little light on a slightly different perspective.

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    • I hear what you are saying, because I have been in your shoes. I spent many years thinking I would “enjoy every moment” because of the amazing amount of longing and pain that I had had. However, my point is that, no matter how much I worked for these kids, it still doesn’t make me “enjoy every moment.” It just means I am the same as other moms now. I appreciate my children as the blessings that they are, but that doesn’t mean this is rosy all the time. I wish you the best!

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      • First, I want say, if I’ve offended you, I’m truly sorry as that was not my intent.

        I understand that you’ve been in my shoes and know my pain. Yes, in a way, you are like other moms now, but, in another way, you’re not because you do understand what it’s like to long to be a mom. I am also not saying it is rosy all the time. What I am saying is: when you are going through those unpleasant moments, if you let yourself go back and feel that pain again, you may have a different perspective on it and be able to better appreciate it saying, “this sucks, but I’m so glad I have my kid(s). I know the pain of wanting them and now that I have them, even when things get tough, I will smile and enjoy the worst of days because the worst of days with my kid(s) are nothing compared to how I felt when I was childless and unsure if I would ever have the privilege of becoming a parent.”

        I realize this may be an “agree to disagree” issue. If so, I am okay with that. I really enjoyed reading and look forward to hearing more from you in the future. 🙂

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  5. I’ve just read your post out to my husband and had a lovely long winded chat about how we feel….. Note my monster is asleep in the car!! Lol. We agree whole heartedly with what you are saying and feel a sense of relief that a parent has actually spoken out about it. How can any human being enjoy being woken up two/ three times in the middle of the night?!?
    We have decided that you need to take the good with the bad…. Good and bad are opposite however they are intrinsically linked…. We need the bad moments/days to realise the good ones.

    Thank you for being honest and again letting me know its ok to feel this way… It’s normal to not be on cloud nine 24 hours 7 days a week. Even tho I will never stop loving my monster!!

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  6. I’m with Tom on this one, in regards to life and parenting after having a micropreemie (Preemies UNITE!). It’s traumatic. Like…really traumatic. And it’s scary. It’s hard to be patient while you hope for the best and wait to bring that sweet little bundle HOME. And once you do, the deepest gratitude in the world for the life of your little miracle doesn’t make every moment of parenting as fun as unicorns and cupcakes. I think the point is, that some parts of life/parenting are kind of cruddy, but we are still grateful for it in the end.

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  7. Pingback: One Year Later: In Words | Okayest Mom

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