Most mothers of young children have heard a stranger’s advice to “enjoy every minute”. This advice is usually given when a shower hasn’t been possible for days, my son is a whining mess, I desperately need to use the restroom, and the only reason that I’ve left the house is because I realized that we are out of milk. Obviously when I am not enjoying that particular moment, which usually makes me feel guilty for taking any second for granted.
A couple of months ago Collin had his one-year-old wellness checkup. I was becoming impatient in the waiting room. Collin was just starting to walk and found a nice open space and captive audience to practice his new skill. I was quickly becoming exhausted as I redirected him away from the pale, coughing, sneezing, and generally sick people who were also waiting for their appointments. I finally settled him down with some toys (and silently prayed that those who played with them before Collin were also there for wellness checkups) and had a seat next to a woman that was obviously very entertained by my son. She asked the usual questions – his age, if I had any other children, etc. After I answered her, she started to say something else which I only assumed would be the standard “enjoy every minute” advice. Instead she surprised me by saying that she remembered those days and how much work they are. She briefly told me about her children and her references made me assume that her kids were only a few years older than mine, no older than elementary school age. I asked her a couple of questions about her children, including their ages, and she replied “23 and 25”. Right then I realized that she was reminiscing as she told me about them.
I took such comfort in our conversation. I know that I’m not going to enjoy every minute, and that every minute isn’t full of silliness, hugs, kisses, and general happiness. That those are the rewards of parenting, not the duties. It’s craziness to expect that anyone ever could.
I also realized that the moments that I do enjoy will become imbedded in my memory and easily accessible in the future. These are the moments that I want to relay to strangers that ask about my children in a waiting room. This is also the reason that these strangers feel compelled to give such impossible advice, because those are the moments that they are recalling. Even as they see my son throw a fit or whine excessively, they can’t help but remember the cuddles and cuteness of their own children years ago.
I feel blessed that Collin was able to bring a bit of her past back to her. It was such a gift to talk to someone that could see that I was not enjoying that particular moment, but still couldn’t help but take pleasure in it. She made such an impact on my outlook of enjoying every moment with my kids. Now I’m off to hug two adorable boys.