You're Going To Miss This

I had one of those moments of bliss today. My baby wanted me, and I was able to just sit with her. I was with people who could help with bigger kids, and no afternoon plans. It's been a busy week for us, with many arms holding this little girl. At that moment, all she wanted was me. And the bliss was, at that moment, I wanted the same thing.

"You're going to miss this." That phrase has been both vilified and held high. It's been a battle cry and a thing to be scorned. 

In the trenches filled with dirty diapers and dishes and laundry, I've thought, "I most certainly will NOT miss this." It's hard, so hard, when people tell you that in the hard moments. It's like the one time you feel it might actually be justified to punch an old lady right in the throat. 

Yet, we say it to ourselves to remind us to take joy in these small moments. It is a mantra for some, to remind them of the importance of these little years. 

I've been wondering: which approach is right? The one that says, "No. You don't remember what this is like. You don't remember the days of bickering, and answering questions for literally hours' worth of daylight. Or what it's like to be so exhausted you cry over spilled milk." Or the approach that says, "Suck every bit of joy out of these moments, because once they're gone, they're gone." I've wondered if one is the prompting of God, and the other my selfish heart. In different groups of mom-friends, I've been dealt guilt for either of those sides. I've wondered which of those moms is more true to me? 

The answer is simple. They're both right. They're both me. We can believe both of those statements, even at the same time. So often, without meaning to, we make problems where they don't exist. We create unnecessary divisions among moms. You don't have to choose to be just a snarky mom, coming up with examples of things you won't miss. And you don't have to just be a sunny skies, enjoy-every-moment type of mom. You can be both. 

Beth Woolsey talks often about "Both/And." Motherhood is both wonderful and difficult. Vacations with kids are both ridiculously stressful and amazingly fun. (I know I link to her a lot. What can I say? I feel we're kindred spirits, fighting the same fight and laughing at the same ridiculous things. As if to prove it, I wrote that vacation line before her last post. About Vacation. Being exactly what I said there.)

"You're going to miss this," Is both infuriating and enlightening.  It's okay if some days I think, "I will never, never ever, never in my life, miss potty-training." And it's great if I can stop and say, "You're going to miss this someday. Stop and enjoy it now," when one of my kids just wants some of my full attention. 

Today, I'm letting my almost-2-year old baby nap in my arms. Because it's something we both want. A few nights ago, all I wanted was for her to just freaking go to sleep. Both of those are okay. I won't miss the nights when we're both exhausted and needing different things. I will miss sweet snuggles and light snores on a lazy afternoon. And that's okay. I can be both of those moms.

More and more, I'm realizing it's all about Balance. It's okay to be both of those moms, but I don't want to be either one ALL the time. For me, one of those moms is bitter, and the other becomes resentful. (I understand that some moms are better focusing on one side over the other, I'm just talking about me here.) When I allow myself the freedom to feel what I feel, and be okay with it, I also give myself the ability to move out of it. If I get caught up in a cycle of guilt and shame over what my feelings truly are, I can't escape. When I've accepted that it's okay to not enjoy every single moment, I have more energy to enjoy the moments I really do want to remember. Sometimes, just being snarky and honest is what helps in the grumpy moments.

So, for me, the idea of Mommy Wars takes another blow. I'm both those moms. I'm snarky and joyful. Grumpy and reverent. Now that I think of it, I'm more than okay with it. I'm happy to have the experience of both. I'm glad to give myself the freedom to take the knowledge that each view offers. 

What about you? How do you balance both views?
I'll try to believe you if you say you're one or the other. Really, I will. 


Darkrose said...

Kristi, I agree with you that motherhood is both wonderful and difficult. I spent 15 years of infertility trying to have a second child and when my son finally arrived I was elated! I held onto him tightly and when people would comment about how fast childhood slips away, I would feel sad. Then, I realized that children do grow up quickly and you should enjoy it as much as possible. However, there is the other side when you have days that seem like they will never end and you just need a break. I am happy that I was both kinds of mom for my son because he was able to see me happy and loving and frustrated and sad. I was real with him and showed him that it is fine to have emotions that fluctuate. I embraced all of the happy times and gave myself a time-out or two in the bathroom. One of my favorite memories was when we visited Santa Barbara California and there was this huge water fountain and Chance was two years old and he ripped off all of his clothes and ran into the water fountain. People were horrified that he was naked and jumping in the fountain. I took my time getting him out-of-the water. He looked up and me and declared, "mom, did you see me? I am a super-hero!" I hugged him tightly and made sure that I embraced the happy moment of my son's joyful romp in the fountain. Later that same visit he decided that he hated beans and rice and threw his food on the ground. Being a mom is bittersweet, I have decided that motherhood is like Mr. Toad's Wild Adventure ride at Disneyland.

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