Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cherishing the Days of Tantrums and Poop Stains

I came across this quote today on Facebook:
“You will never have this day with your children again, tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today.  This day is a gift, breathe and notice, smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today, mama.  It will be over before you know it." – Jen Hatmaker
Now, I understand that this is supposed to be inspiring and motivate me to enjoy and appreciate each moment with my children, but what it really does is cause me extreme anxiety and incite a bit of a panic attack.  Does it make me a bad mom if I anxiously count down the minutes until bedtime so I can finally have a bit of peace and quiet?  Am I really supposed to relish the charms of the present when the present is full of cleaning up the ridiculously adult sized bodily functions of a tiny human being?  Or staying up all night, doing 16 loads of laundry, and shampooing the carpets when the stomach flu hits our house?  For the 3rd time in one year???  Am I a terrible person if I am not cherishing all these moments??
I know as well as anyone that babies grow up and before you know it, your two year old cherub who tantrums, wets the bed, and calls you the meanest mommy in the world will, in the blink of an eye, be the eight year old angel who tantrums, wets the bed, and calls you the meanest mom in the world.   I am as sentimental as the next mommy about wishing my children could stay small, and thinking fondly of their younger years.  And wishing I didn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars each season when they put on their jeans and find they are 2 inches shorter than they were yesterday.  And, while I do make a conscious effort to live in the moment and appreciate the time I have with my children….some days it is more difficult than others.
A few weeks ago, I remember sitting in a booth with my oldest little monster and there was a lady was with her teenage daughter in the booth behind us.  As my son was rambling on about his iPod Angry Birds game, I was eavesdropping on their conversation about the girl getting asked to the Homecoming dance by a boy who left a note in her backpack and the mom asking if she liked the boy and the girl responding that it was “awkward to talk about with her mom” and I was thinking that it was awkward to listen to and also “OH MY GAH!!!! In a few short years I will be this mom and my sweet 5 year old cutie pie will be paying attention to other females besides me!  And I will be just like this mom, trying to remain calm and cool, but on the inside FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!”
Then I read this quote this morning and thought “Geez, you loser, you should have been enjoying your son’s story about which birds have which special abilities and ‘relishing the charms of the present’ instead of spying on the people next to you”.  But, wow, homecoming conversations are so much more interesting to me than Angry Birds.
Reading quotes like the one above just causes me to worry that I’m not doing enough, that I’m not enjoying  my children enough, that I’m not enough.  And then I start to bite my fingernails as I fret and I frown, which causes wrinkles, and then I am not only a bad mom, but an ugly one at that.

James 4:13-16 reads, Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend this and that", you do not know what tomorrow will hold (or if you are even granted tomorrow).

Clearly I don't want to waste one single moment of these precious years of childhood worrying. I am intent on seizing these moments and squeezing every last ounce of goodness out of them.  So, for all the parents out there like me who are doing their darn best, who panic when they think of how quickly their children are growing, and who often feel guilt when they aren’t enjoying every moment, I offer this advice:
When you are struggling with your children, remember that bedtime will come soon.  Just because you don’t enjoy every single second of parenting doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy being a parent.  You love your children more than the world, and you will enjoy every stage of life that you experience together (minus the tantrums and poop stains), even though they’re not always going to be pretty.  Just do your best, breathe, and take each day as it comes.  Oh, and chocolate and small amounts of "mommy juice" always help. (wink.)

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