Stop Telling Me to “Enjoy my Babies”

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Confession: I am a recovering crier. I used to shed tears pretty much over anything, from someone hurting my feelings, to forgetting the pasta boiling on the stove and it turning to mush, someone hurting my feelings, a Jim Cogdill Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram commercial, looking at wedding photos of my grandfather sitting in the front row (he passed away four months after we married), an empty mailbox, and someone hurting my feelings. Basically, a tad sensitive. Which, if YOU had called me a tad sensitive, I would have cried.

However, motherhood, which normally turns otherwise even tempered women into total basket cases every time they spot a monogrammed onesie or a stray kitten on their porch, cast the exact opposite spell on me: I became a robot. The tears were gone, and the stress set in. Instead of weeping over their first steps, I stressed that they were walking too late for their age. I micromanaged every moment of the first few years of motherhood, overwhelmed with “doing it right” or “being enough” or “holding every moment precious to my soul.”

That’s when well meaning ladies at the grocery store would take a look at my buggy, with a five year old hanging off the side singing about Minnie Mouse panties, a two year old screaming in the front seat of the cart because he had skipped a nap/didn’t like Mondays/was a two year old, and a one year old with a giant head strapped to me in a baby sling, with a steady stream of drool rolling down my arm, and my postpartum bulge poking out where my shirt and jeans SHOULD meet, and dare to grab me, look me stone cold in the eye, and say: “YOU’D BETTER ENJOY THIS TIME. THEY GROW UP SO QUICK! ENJOY THIS! ENJOY YOUR BABIES!” and then trot off with their Coach purses and carts full of groceries they can actually afford.

I am privy to the fact that this is well meaning advice. That women want to encourage young mothers to soak in all the time they can with their small children, because they will never be tiny again. This is not news. But the element that is forgotten is you have not slept in about four months, your husband works very long hours, and the van needs new tires that the budget will not allow.

Young motherhood is not just “motherhood.” It is a season of hardship, making ends meet, postpartum depression, losing family members, moving states away, making friends with total strangers, getting phone calls about loved ones with cancer, and eating leftover lasagna three nights in a row.

My father once told me that you “never forget your humble beginnings.” And he is absolutely correct.

My youngest turned four last week. And my robot self burst into tears after I tucked them all into bed that night. My husband, shocked at my tear-filled regression, listened as I gurgled on about how I miss them being babies, that there will most likely never be another four year old in our house, and how I basically did not fully embrace those humble beginnings. How I did not just love every single moment.

But, wise as he is, (and slightly scared of me, I am certain), he gently reminded me that we are coming into a new era of parenting. That we are in the age of “making memories” with our kids. Our eight, five and four year old are going to enjoy campfires after their bedtime, curling up with a quilt and reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and throwing rocks in the pond by the barn. These are events that they will actually remember.

Do I wish I had nurtured the capacity to love every single moment of infancy as if the clock was watching all the moments? That I had breathed in birthing three kids in four years like the crisp fresh air rolling off of Mount LeConte in my stretched out clothing and unwashed hair? Maybe.

But time moves the same for all of us. Try to enjoy those babies, yes. But I am also going to enjoy my preschoolers, my third graders, my middle schoolers, my high school graduates, my son- and daughters-in-law, and my precious future grand babies.

And I may shed a few tears, one Jim Cogdill Dodge commercial at a time.

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10 Responses to Stop Telling Me to “Enjoy my Babies”

  1. kimmy Sue July 7, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    For sure ever stage is one to be enjoyed…your conclusion is the right one, and I can safely say grand children are the grandest!! Having my children grown & raising their own children, reaching the end of my life I can surely say God is good, life is great & I wouldn’t change one minute spent with my children doing one single thing. You are truly a gifted writer!! Love your posts.

  2. Megan Mc July 7, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    You are singing my song! I had a similar moment in Target over a screaming toddler and 899 kinds of lightbulbs, none of which was the right one, and a well meaning grandma. I hear “Cats in the Craddle” playing in my head constantly right before I run to the closet to secretly binge on Snickers and count to 100, again. From a fellow Mom and LEO wife, thank you for your posts and honesty!

  3. Susan July 12, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Oh sweetie – know how hard this stage is. Our babies are now young adults and I just don’t know where the time went. I quit working (for money) with my second child’s arrival and was so overwhelmed and stressed and obsessed with budgets and milestones much as you describe. I suppose I’m one of the older ladies you mention, without the Coach bag – unless it came from a thrift store. My kids are 23 and 19 – and they are rarely cute anymore, but the level of parental anxiety and the expenses have skyrocketed. Talking with an old friend whose babies were the same age as mine recently, she observed that parenting young adults makes the terrible twos and the surly adolescent years look like a cake walk. It’s not always awful, but there are very few “awwww” moments to balance out the “oh no you didn;t” moments. When we see you in Target, we see ourselves 20 years ago, and when we urge you to enjoy your kids, we’re speaking not just to you, but to our selves from all those years ago. It would be so nice to go back and snuggle that now huge boy in his baby sling that he insisted on riding in till he was so big I could barely stand up, or hold that wild little girl’s now perfectly manicured hand – but she has finished college, lives away and is busy making her own life now, while regularly needing chunks of cash during her long transition to adulthood. So do the best you can. Don’t sweat the little stuff – enjoy where you’re at – drool and all. Stop every once in a while and take it all in – warts and all. And now I’m off to a closet to count to ten. xo

  4. Bekki@a better way to homeschool July 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    These are events that they will actually remember…”

    While I would definitely be one of the moms stopping to tell you “don’t blink, they’ll be grown before you know it”, I think there is a golden truth in your hubby’s wisdom. Events that they will remember…

    We all want to be the super mom. Truth is we can’t.

    When I was in my twenties I was talking with my mom about how epically awesome my dad was. He was just ‘always there’.

    She looked at me funny as I described my recollection of my childhood: I spy, gazing at clouds, catching dragonflies, playing in the soccer field made by dad, singing in the dark, strolling through wild flowers… He was just always there.

    She laughed. “Bekki, your dad was NEVER home. He traveled for 4-6 weeks at a time, and was home for a quick weekend and then back out in the road.

    What? How could that be? In my memory, he is and was always there.

    His secret was being THERE when he was home. Yes, he was busy. He had lots of stuff to do and places to be, but he always paused in the day to delight in simplicity. Clouds, birds, wildflowers.
    It made my childhood.

    Yes, enjoy your children now. Mine are now 9, 11, 13, 17, and 22 and time flies by.
    …but find moments in the day to be “there” making memories that will stick and stay…
    While they may seem simplistic, they will be the ones that are cherished.

  5. Jackie M July 15, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    Great post! My baby is now 6 months old and I am finally starting to ‘enjoy him’. The first few months of colicky baby were impossible to enjoy. Although I miss those snuggles, I find comfort in the fact that there are so many fun times ahead, like you talked about. And a lot more stressful times too 🙂 Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know others feel the way I do!

  6. Lindsey August 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    CHRISTIE! I swear you are living my life. 3 kids in less than 4 years and I’m surviving the hours and fighting for joy….and trying to point my kids to Jesus in the midst of it all. I’ve read several of your posts (making friends in your 30s–one of my faves) and from one East Tennessee girl to another, this whole motherhood is SO HARD. Grateful for your words.

  7. Harmony January 5, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Really loved this!

  8. Leah July 12, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    Oh I love this! I feel the exact same way. I literally cringe when people tell me “make sure you enjoy it!”
    Like of course I am….

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