A blog post written by an excellent blogger went viral a few months ago. In many ways, I agree with what she writes about releasing ourselves as parents of the pressure to enjoy every single moment of this parenting journey.
But part of me wonders why we get so upset when older women come up to us in the store and urge us to enjoy the minutes. Why are we so quick to lash out when strangers want to offer a bit of encouragement – even if it’s misguided? I don’t say this accusingly, because I, too, have found myself defensive when people make comments that I perceive to be insensitive, ignorant or laced with pressure.
But if I step back and take a deep breath, most of the time it’s really evident that whoever made the comment is not speaking out of judgement or malice, but simply from a place that’s different from mine.
Take the older gentleman in Sam’s a few months back – the one who tsked at me when the kids were acting like rabid baboons while we waited in line. At first, I was annoyed at his impatience. My initial reaction was to either lash out at him, or to encourage the kids to act out more simply out of spite.
But when I stepped back (as in left the store and thought about it a bit), I realized this: he’s old. Also, I have no idea what his background is. Maybe he never had kids and simply doesn’t understand. Likely, if he did have kids, his wife did the majority of the errands with them when they were small, simply because that’s how older generations operated.
The point is, I don’t know, so why get so upset about it? Why not just smile politely, try to quiet the kids and realize that once we leave the store we will probably never see him again?
The fact of the matter is, our time with our children is short. It will go by quickly. And before we know it, we will be the older women in the check out line watching a young mom wrangle in her children, frazzled and tired, and we will probably miss those moments – yes, even the moments that are “helluva hard.”
So even in the crazy, when the kids are running rampant in the store, try to take a deep breath and remind yourself of two things:
– This will not last forever and you’ve got hundreds of solo shopping trips ahead of you in life so don’t waste time getting embarrassed over the small stuff.
– These days really will fly by fast, so seize every moment you can and laugh as often as possible.
I don’t say these things as someone who’s got this down. I scowl more than I laugh some days and I look forward to bedtime as much as the next person – it’s the nature of the beast. But I’m not for a second wishing this time away.
Just because I don’t always Carpe Diem doesn’t mean I shouldn’t at least try.
In fact, with the realization that my “baby” is going to be five at the end of the year, I find myself a little sad and wistful. I watch the new moms around me with a faint smile and I find myself whispering softly, “Enjoy every minute of this time because it goes by so fast.”
Yes, I remember the sleepless nights, the endless crying and the non-stop work of having an infant. And I miss it. I actually do miss it. I didn’t think I would when I had an infant, but I do now. I would take a hundred sleepless nights all over again if I could. If I feel that way, then it’s quite possible that the older women in the store feel the same about the harried state of life I’m currently in.
So the next time you’re at the store with your kids and they’re wreaking havoc, try to take a minute to sit back, laugh and be present in the moment. And when the older woman smiles and urges you to seize the day, or asks you if you are going to “try for a girl/boy” or wonders why they’re not in school, smile politely and thank her for any encouragement she has to offer.
I think the old women at Target have a lot to teach us, if we’re willing to listen…