Enjoy every moment

I blog surf, as I've mentioned before, and the type of blogs I come across in the blogging moms universe more often than not promote the idea that life should be enjoyed EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY!!! These blogs are mostly written by mothers with small children.

I am sorry, but I don't think we are supposed to enjoy every moment. Life with little kids is supposed to be hard. If it's not hard, then either we have pretend children, or we are not parenting. We could be grandparenting though. I hear that is more in line with the "enjoy every moment" style, mostly because grandparents don't have to be there EVERY moment. Most grandparents can hand the child back after a while and say, "Here you go! You may deal with him now that I've squeezed out of him all the fun I can stand." Grandparents are supposed to be fun. I remember both my sets of grandparents as being much more fun than my parents. One grandma (the MN one) ALWAYS had candy on hand and we were allowed (as long as we asked and it wasn't too close to dinner time, say within 5 minutes) to eat as much as we wanted. She also had sugared cereal, with my mother wouldn't allow within 100 yards of the house. My other grandma (the CA one) always had gum for our use (another thing my mother wouldn't let us have). My CA grandparents also took us to movies all the time. Grandparenting is the only style of parenting that should be non-stop enjoyment.

Non-stop enjoyment can be tiring. I can't imagine having to think up the sheer number of activities that will create "MEMORIES!" enough to fill every waking moment. I'd be up all night. And despite the claim that crafting with kids, or making learning fun with kids, or going out and seeing the sights with the kids is cheap, nonstop cheap activities can add up to be expensive. Cheap is not doing anything and telling them to go play in their rooms with the toys they have. And creative is telling them to make up new stories with the toys they already have.

Enjoying every minute means I have to love cleaning up spilled milk and snot and vomit and stepping on tiny Lego bricks that hide in the carpet fibers. It means I have to enjoy the tantrums (a kid that is made to enjoy every second of the day WILL have tantrums). It also means I would have to smile and laugh at every single booger joke repeated a thousand times by a humor-impaired four-year old. No, thank you! I would go nuts if I had to enjoy any of that.

Not everything a child does is precious, brilliant, clever, or beautiful. Sometimes, children are mean, defiant, and kind of dumb (I recently saw a video clip of a kid who was afraid of his shadow, literally). One of my own children flushed his own toys down the toilet and then cried because they were gone. Hello? Does that smack of high intelligence? And as for a child's creative output being consistently beautiful, witness the child who dresses himself or herself. I've had a laugh more times than I can count from beholding odd combinations of shirt and pants (or lack of either) my children put on their bodies.

It's ok not to like parenting sometimes. It isn't supposed to be easy. It isn't supposed to be all fun and games. Neither parent or child will learn anything of value from constant happiness. I'd like to modify the "enjoy every moment" slogan to "enjoy some of the moments and then get on each other's nerves for a bit."

Thank you for letting me get that little rant out of my system. Feel free to insist that I am either a really bad parent, ungrateful for the precious little ones that I had once, or that I obviously didn't recognize the honor of being a mother.


Karie said…

Thank you for that post, Sara. It *is* easy to get caught up in thinking that I must not be doing something right if we don't have, say, traditions for every single holiday or special wake-up songs or what have you. Should probably cherish the happy moments and strive to endure the rest well or something like that.

I may link to your post in my own blog, if you don't mind.
I don't mind at all! I'm glad to know you found my rant useful!
Jenni said…
Thank you. I have friends that do nothing but praise the miracle that is their amazing little brat. I kind of like the ones who mess up a bit. And when I have a day off, it is MY day off and I'm not overly concerned that my kids are entertained or not. Oh, that I could pass this around at church!!
Jen said…
I couldn't have said any better. You and I have discussed this extensively, so you know how I feel. But do block out three days surrounding Violet's birthday for her 3-day birthday celebration for her one and only 1st birthday. I KNOW that everyone is as excited as me for my child to be ONE!
Abby said…
THIS IS AWESOME. Thank you so much for this. I'm getting so sick of all the guilt trips about the whole "you're an ungrateful mother and one day you'll regret not loving every second of this" crap. Bite me, "perfect moms."

Also, I would very much like to see the video of that stupid kid and his shadow.
Amanda said…
Amen! I found your blog through Karie's link. And, I couldn't agree more. I think what's more important in the end is that we look back at these years with fondness. Sure, we won't laugh about the worst days now, but if we're doing things right, we'll look back and realize that we were happy overall. And, that our kids were happy overall, too.

With the information overload we have constant access to, it's hard to feel fine about not doing something in a particular way. But, there is only one person that we have to have parenting approval from--and He's the one we're borrowing these kids from in the first place. After all, they were His long before they became ours. And, once we have the confidence of God, no other opinions matter.
Welcome everybody! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

The trick is to find happiness in some/most of the moments and to wade through the difficult ones with grace and without unrighteous anger.

My philosophy regarding raising kids is not necessarily to have fun with them and make special moments, but to raise them to be responsible and faithful adults. And I do realize that I won't be perfect at it, and my children won't learn everything from me.

Oh, and win every argument. (wink)
I think you know my philosophy on this one. Life is diapers. When we look hard we can find the divinity in most things, but like president Hinckley said, there are only occasional bursts of beauty and joy (totally paraphrasing his "life is like a railway journey" quote), and we must learn to enjoy the ride.
Molly said…
I came via Diapers and Divinity and I just have to add my Amen to the others. My cousin, a mom working full-time outside the home, was on maternity leave and asked me how on earth I have the energy to be a stay-at-home mom. She was exhausting herself trying to entertain her 2 year old with crafts and activities and outings in between trying to teach him how to read all his letters and write his doctoral dissertation. Oh boy. That's just setting yourself up for feelings of guilt with that kind of high expectation.
Karie said…
Sara, I was just reading this post again and nodding right along. Thanks again for reminding me that I don't have to be a Pinterest-perfect mom--I can just muddle along being me and the kids will still turn out all right. I think.
Karie, I still fully believe this 9even while using Pinterest to scope out wedding ideas for my daughter). I had a recent conversation with someone who was afraid to discipline her children or make them work around the house because she was worried that she would screw up her children. I thought about that later and came to the conclusion that any kind of parenting is going to affect children. They will have problems regarding our parenting, no matter what we do. Because we are human/fallible, we are going to mess up our kids. But that's ok. Part of the purpose of this life is adversity, specifically learning to deal with it. A life without adversity is a life without learning, without progress, without true ability to be happy. The trick I guess is to teach them to forgive and learn to do it ourselves.

Karie, your kids will turn out fine. They will have troubles, and regrets. So might you. Right now, I'm wishing I could have hugged my 3 year olds just one more time, because those 3 year olds have disappeared. 15 year olds don't hug so much and with so much trust and absolute love as a 3 year old.

Pinterest is one of those places you can easily lose yourself, your purpose, and what's really important if you aren't careful.

Eep, I got deep there. I'd better go back to pinning silver heels to wear at the receptions. Time to turn on motherzilla-of-the-bride mode.