“Be sure to savor every moment – it goes by so fast!”

How many times have you heard this advice? If you’re a mom, maybe you feel like you are walking around with a sign on your forehead that reads “I’m living life in a complete blur and can’t remember my kids names. I spend about two minutes every day with my kids and four thousand hours doing laundry. I think my kids will be little forever, and I completely take them for granted. What advice might you give me?”

I feel like I must be wearing a sign like that because I get that advice OFTEN. I KNOW it is well-intentioned, but I just have to say a few things about this today. 

FIRST, let me preface this by saying that there is not much I appreciate more than the advice of women- particularly older women-who’ve been where I’m walking. I truly value and respect their opinions and guidance. I would NOT be where I am today without the help and leadership of wise moms who’ve “gone before”.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let me say this: Sometimes I think that moms who’ve been there/done that can forget just exactly how hard it is to be here/do this.

It sounds so great to say things like “savor every moment” and “don’t worry about the dishes, they’ll still be there tomorrow”, but is this really realisitic?! I KNOW the dishes will still be there tomorrow – along with some weird crusty stuff that I can’t get off AND a ridiculously foul odor – that’s the whole problem! 

I know that every mother will probably come to a point after our kids are grown when we’ll have to experience the pain of looking back and whincing at all the time we spent cooking, cleaning, worrying, working, striving, stressing, crying, dusting, forgetting, slacking, over-achieving, or anything else other than just ENJOYING our children…and we will be filled with regret that we didn’t savor it more…that we didn’t just STOP and SIT and rest with our kids because now that they are grown, we realize how fast it all goes and that all that other stuff just really didn’t matter all that much.

BUT…as a mom who is still IN THIS, I just have to say that that is easier said than done. Might we be forgetting that motherhood requires that all of these other things like cleaning and cooking are also taken care of? I mean, is it REALLY OK for me to sit in complete chaos with dirty dishes, unorganization, and filth as long as I have a  smile on my face because I’m just “soaking in my kids” that day?

My husband would be cool with that for a day or two, but on about day 7 of me playing Candyland wtih the kids while food in my refrigerator grow legs and my toilet water starts to move… well, that might make him a little upset. Laundry MUST be done. Dishes MUST be washed. It’s just part of the job. And it’s a gift to my children and husband to manage my household. 

Nonetheless, I get this guilty feeling sometimes that if  I’m not sitting in the living room just staring at my kids with a huge, fulfilled smile on my face that somehow I’ve stopped being a good mother. That if I worry about a dirty dish or stress out about a load of laundry, it means I’m not “savoring the moments” enough.

BUT… no matter how hard we try or strive to savor every moment, will we EVER feel like we were truly able to accomplish this anyway?! Will we ever feel like we loved our kids enough? Read them enough stories? Held them long enough?

Or are we all destined to regret later that we didn’t do more?

I live in fear sometimes of that regret. I know I can not possibly savor every single moment. Maybe you all can, but I don’ t live in that neighborhood.  I know I can’t possibly live a life where dishes and duty don’t exist…or that I don’t just sometimes get completely stressed out, ungrateful, or overwhelmed. I’m doing the BEST I can to appreciate the special moments. It is a GREAT idea to slow down and soak things in when life allows you to. And I’m not opposed to letting the dishes slide for a day or two in order to take a walk or play at the park. I’ve made some of those very choices myself.

But ultimately, life takes us in a lot of directions and requires a lot from us. Savoring every moment is not an easy thing to do.

So…I want to write myself a note to remind myself of this. I hope I can read this when I am older and remember what it was like…and that when I’m tempted to look back with regret, I can know that it’s not that I didn’t care or want to savor every moment. It’s just that life sometimes doesn’t let you…and that I did the asbolute best I could.

Dear Self:

Now that your kids are grown, you are probably filled with the precious memories of their smiles, laughter and innocence of when they were younger. You’d probably give anything just to see their baby faces again and your arms probably ACHE to hold them. You probably feel like you’d trade in your life to hear them ask for you to read them a story.You probably desperately miss all of their questions…you know- the ones that used to drive you crazy. You probably wish SO badly that you could go back and do things differently…that you didn’t worry so much about the house or the chores…that you would have just savored it more. That instead of being tired and cranky when your little one woke in the middle of the night, you would have just appreciated the chance to hold him. Because now you’d take a sleepless night any time in order for a chance to hold your baby again.

But let me tell you this: You did the best you could. Yes, there were nights that you were SO TIRED you didn’t think you could handle one more waking moment of crying or holding or floor-pacing and ALL you could think about was sleep.

But there were also nights when you didn’t put your baby down, even after he DID fall asleep, because you just wanted to watch him breathe.

Yes, there were days when you put the kids in front of the television just so you could get to some much needed chores…and you felt guilty about this. But there were also days when you let the house go…and you blew bubbles on the front porch.

Yes there were days when the kids asked you to play and you said “No honey, I can’t right now – mommy’s busy”. But there were also days when you said “I sure can”, and you grabbed umbrellas out of the closet and ran in the rain.

Yes, there were days when you didn’t take the time to listen like you should have, when you were rushed, and when the world’s madness found its way into your life. But there were also days when you were amazingly attuned to your children, and you listened, and you purused their hearts with great care and gentleness.

Yes there were days when you felt like you were just barely surviving any of this.

But there were also days, MANY days, that you savored it all.

Please please remember this:

In light of everything…in all that we have to deal with as mothers…with ALL that life hands us to manage, balance and work out…with all the demands and requests…

You were as present as you knew how to be.

Love,

Yourself

(Did you catch that? You should love yourself too :))

 

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2 Responses to “Note to Self”

  • Liz:

    My goodness this was wonderful! It’s every thought I have ever had. Where is the perfect balance of enjoyment and productivity :) Thanks for this!

  • Mom:

    This was awesome. I’m so glad that you work hard to find balance in the reality of life. Guilt produces nothing. Regret serves no purpose. These are just emotions that explain what we didn’t do. Past tense. Over. But wisdom is more precious than gold. It lets us choose wisely in the “now”. And I think you have made some very wise observations!

    I also believe that we can’t separate the children from the dirty dishes, laundry, house keeping, etc. All of these things are part of your children’s world. In taking care of these things, you ARE taking care of your children. There is a “season” for all things. Savoring (which may be the same as playing, or just stairing at them) could mean savoring this season of your life, which includes all the above things. Whoever says that savoring means that other less important things should give way to the really “important” things – well, I just think they must be the ones with lots of regret and guilt – who didn’t live well – who didn’t balance their lives. Or maybe, just maybe, we all will regret, just like you said. Maybe regret is just another word for wishing we could hold to everything in our life. Move into the future without having to let the past go. Like wishing we could buy new clothes to fill our closets without having to get rid of anything. The past must go to make room for today, and tomorrow. And with that, I can’t help but feel regret, no matter what the past held. I want to take it ALL with me. I want my baby girl, and I want my grown up beautiful daughter who is now holding her own babies. Savor? Yes. However that turns out. But regret? Savoring will never cancel regret. This is one area where you will get to have both.

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