Sitting amongst all the women in my husband’s family one holiday evening, we discussed life with little children. “It’s hard to see past that time in your life when you are living it” said Ben’s aunt. I nodded in agreement.
Ben’s maternal grandmother sat on the couch, her little body comically perched atop the leather cushions. Her eyes peered out through the thick lenses of her glasses. “Those are the best days of your life” she said wistfully, a small sad smile on her face.
It’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed time and time again.
“Enjoy this time in your life.”
“They go so fast, don’t they?”
“I miss those days.”
And I get it, I really do. I love this time in my life, with all the little frustrations and stresses it brings. I am fully aware how fleeting this time is, how every moment spent cuddling my babies is a moment straight from Heaven. I try very hard to cherish every small thing and enjoy the times just spent laughing with Ada, or kissing Mymy’s chubby little cheeks. I get that it is a precious time.
But for some reason, whenever I hear people tell me that these are the best days of my life…I feel a twinge of something…If I’m honest, there is a slight twinge of annoyance, in the implication that I am somehow not aware of my blessings, along with the sheer amount of times I hear it. As I said, however, I get it, so that part of it is just a brief moment, nothing that really bothers me. Most people are just trying to help.
What I think really bothers me is fear. Hearing people wax on and on about this being the best time in my life, and how much I’m going to miss it, and aren’t these babies precious makes me fear what is to come. Will my life be meaningless without children? Do I have anything to look forward to once they are grown?
My post-baby body clearly leaves a modeling career out the picture, so what’s next? I get so panicked thinking about it sometimes. I will literally be playing with my children and start thinking of all those friendly reminders to cherish this time and I will start to see the moments vanishing before my eyes. Mya laughing at Ada’s in the bathtub–gone. Ada twirling on the top of the stairs in her princess dress she donned after naptime–gone. Like beads on a broken necklace, I see the moments lost forever.
It’s such a balancing act every day. Do I do the laundry or read the kids a book? Do I unload the dishwasher or play Chutes & Ladders with Ada? Should I put Mya in her crib or hold her right through her nap, breathing in her sweet baby smell? It’s enough to make a person crazy. Especially in light of the all the recent losses of babies and young people I have seen, it becomes harder and harder to know where to draw the line. Yes, I want to enjoy my kids, but I also want clean dishes. And yet, even cleaning my house is tainted with guilt as echoes of “best time of your life” sound in my head. And then throw the fact there is work and husbands and your own personal time to deal with..it’s amazing we can even function through the day! Sometimes, I almost wish I was back in those pioneering woman days, when there was so much work to be done to merely survive the day that feeling guilty for not enjoying your children enough was just not an option.
I think especially for mothers who choose to be home with their kids, there is a level of guilt attached to it. As in, if I’m choosing to be here instead of productively making money, I better really choose it. I sure as heck better cuddle, snuggle, read, play, and cherish this time–because I chose it. At least, it’s that way for me. My job at the hospital especially is a job that is always there, always needing people to come in and help. So every day that I don’t go in, I am consciously choosing to be home–so I better make it count.
This post feels a bit rambly, but hey I’ve been up since 1, 4, and 5 am with both children and especially child #2, who inherited child #1’s horrible poop bug (actually a real thing–rotavirus). Poor baby.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope we can all enjoy our children, yes, but not take it to the extreme I sometimes border on, in trying too hard to cherish it all that I am not living the moment. Writing down every cute thing, snapping pictures everywhere, capturing all the memories without really living them. I hope I can learn to balance it all, to let go of my guilt in unloading the dishwasher, to not have an internal battle when the time comes to lay May down for her nap. I want to look forward to the future, seeing my children grow, even spending time with them as (gulp) adults. (I know this will happen in theory, but I can’t fathom it. It is mind-boggling to me that my husband is his mother’s baby!!) I want to know that there is life after children. But hopefully, never without children in it.
I do believe the munchkins are awakening. So, in the meantime, I leave you with this, a little reminder of just one of the best days in my life…