I realize there are people who really do miss parenting moments, or desperately wish they could do it again, whether they have tragically lost a child, or are dealing with infertility. This post isn’t intended for those people, nor is it intended to be hurtful. If this you, the following “tongue-in-cheek” post isn’t a good read for you. Years ago, I had a mom with older children at my house. We (OK, I) had picked up the toys for the millionth time of the day already, yet they were all over the floor of my family room. The baskets where I’d organized toys were askew, contents spilling out. I gestured at the mess, apologized, and half heartedly said “yeah, yeah, I know ‘I’ll miss this one day.'” She looked at me and with a completely straight face said “no you won’t.”
It seems like from the time you announce your pregnancy, you aren’t “allowed” to not love every single moment because “you’re going to miss this!” I can’t help but wonder if people who say that about everything just have really, really selective memories. Sure, those flutters and kicks were sweet, but I vividly recall the heartburn, itchy belly, aches, pains and general hugeness I endured three times. (Side note, I think the “enjoy every moment” people are rivaled only by the “just wait” crowd. Oh you’re tired now? Just wait until the baby comes. 🙄)
I remember the sweetness of cuddling my newborns and watching them dream with the little half smiles and sucking their lips. I also remember the spit up, not showering, and not sleeping. 🙃
I remember the first time they said mama, the baby giggles, and watching them grow. I also remember them throwing food, perfecting their Pterodactyl screeches, and…not sleeping.
I remember their little heads being tucked under my chin while I rocked them to sleep. I also remember carrying them surf board style out of Target after a tantrum and long, drawn out bedtimes where I just wanted a little bit of quiet and to go to sleep myself.
Now that my oldest child is a teenager, I can’t say parenting gets “better” but it gets different. It definitely can get better/easier depending on the challenges of that particular child. You can remember moments fondly without “missing them.”
My oldest child was difficult for many reasons. Sure, there were things I enjoyed but I also enjoy having frank conversations, sharing memes and music with my 14-year old and seeing her grow into an amazing young woman.
My middle child had colic. He is incredibly smart, and I love the intellectual conversations, made up math problems and deep discussions about the universe I have with my now 10-year old. I fondly remember bedtime stories and playing together outside, but I don’t miss sobbing alone at the kitchen table at 3 am when he was screaming inconsolably.
My youngest was a pretty chill baby – as long as he was being held and/or nursing. I didn’t shower alone until he was 4ish+. Guess who doesn’t miss that?!
None of the kids consistently slept through the night for about 2 years, so due to age spread of my kids/pregnancy misery I went almost a decade without a consistent full night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation is literal torture. Guess who doesn’t miss that?!
I’ve been a mom for almost 15 years. I may not be an expert, but I think I’m qualified to give my opinion. I’m not trying to rush my kids’ childhood but I love that my older two can pretty much handle their homework and personal hygiene on their own. I am genuinely looking forward to my youngest getting to that point as well. Considering my short term parenting goal is no children barfing on the carpet, my bar is set pretty low.
I am grateful to be my children’s mother and to get to see them grow. Of course I look back at prior stages and smile at parts of it, but I absolutely do not miss it. You can look forward to new stages without negating the magic of previous stages. It’s OK if you think the stage you’re currently in is bullsh*t or if your kid is a jerk sometimes. If you find yourself wanting to say “you’re going to miss this” to another parent, maybe consider saying instead that you know how hard it is, and offer to help if you can.
Whether you have a newborn, teenager, or anything in between, if you have access to a friend, family member or babysitter who can fill in for a few hours, let them. Take a shower, nap, paint your nails, nap, take a walk, do a face mask, nap, take a bath, eat a hot meal, or maybe even nap. Did I suggest taking a nap? Do something for yourself, to make yourself feel more human and more YOU again. You’re their mama but you’re also you and don’t forget it.