The one piece of advice new parents get from well meaning adults with grown children is this: “You’re going to miss these days. Cherish them. They go by so fast.”
This is indeed great advice. It gives me perspective. It reminds me that parenting is not a lifelong career. It is an expiring position. It tells me that I should be intentional and in the moment as much as I can. And that I will never have this day with my kids ever again.
However, what I have also found is that although the people who repeatedly utter these words of wisdom really do mean well–it inevitably sets a standard and an expectation that I just can not meet.
On the days that are hard, when I am longing to tap out, clock out, or take a commercial break from my children, because I can not endure another stressful moment. Their advice makes me feel like a failure.
On the days when my toddler won’t listen and feels the need to go to the mattresses over every single decision to be made. Their advice makes me feel like a failure.
On the days when my baby won’t stop crying or clinging to me, and I stare around at a house in complete disarray. Their advice makes me feel like a failure.
On the days when I feel like all I’ve been doing is tending to the needs of everyone else except for my own. Their advice makes me feel like a failure.
On the days when I feel awful because I wasn’t the kind, cool, fun, awesome and patient mom I should be. Especially in front of the lady at Chick-fil-a who watched me snap at my kid, because he refused eat a single bite of the meal just seconds before he was begging to have. Their advice makes me feel like a failure.
On these days, their advice makes me feel like this YOU HAVE WASTED A PRECIOUS DAY WITH YOUR CHILDREN THAT YOU WILL NEVER GET BACK. It reminds me that all the standards I have set for myself (consciously or subconsciously) I have failed to meet again.
In summation, what this advice really means to me is “You should be happy every single day you are with your children and that every moment you are together should be memorable.”
But that isn’t realistic. That is not life. Life is not always euphoric and blissful. It’s dirty messy painful and can slip through our hands in a breath. Is this the lesson I want to teach my kids? That every day they should be happy. No.I don’t.
Some days they are going to hate me. That’s okay. Some days I am going to fail them-that’s okay. They need to know mommy and daddy aren’t perfect. They need to know that we don’t expect them to be either.
So maybe, what this well meaning advice should say is this:
Forgive the bad days, Eat up the good. Be present and thoughtful in your children’s lives (as much as you can for as long as you) because it goes by fast.