People Tell You To ‘Cherish Every Moment’ With Your Kids – Which Is A Bunch Of BS

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shutterstock_185826137There are many parenting clichés and sayings that are annoying, but nothing is more destructive to a parent’s self-esteem than the overly optimistic admonishment to “cherish every moment.” That’s bullshit.

It’s one of those things that aunts say when you see them at holidays. That the checker at the grocery store says while she coos at the baby. That the mom of teenagers says as she wistfully recalls her babies. They might be well-meaning but really, they’re wrong.

There are two reasons why.

The first is because it makes us think there’s something wrong with us if we don’t cherish every moment.

Parenting is hard. Parenting a baby, a toddler or a pre-schooler is HARD. Parenting is a never-ending, thankless job with no escape. Every day is a sleep-deprived, roller-coaster of emotions. Children make even the smallest things a challenge. As soon as they’re on a schedule, it changes. Getting them dressed is often a power struggle. Going pee is a standoff. Eating is a constant negotiation. Leaving the house can take longer than the entire errand. Often, just keeping your children alive feels like an accomplishment. Yet, these are the days and moments we’re not only supposed to enjoy, but cherish.

It goes so fast; remember every moment, they implore you. Let me tell you – some days, time does not go fast. Some days, five minutes feels like five hours. Some days, you are just counting down the minutes until the next nap, the next tv show, or finally, finally until bedtime when you can reset and start things over again.

When you’re in the thick of parenting a small child, it often feels overwhelming. Is this it, you wonder? And what if it is? Are these all the sticky, snotty, crying moments you’re supposed to be cherishing? And is there something wrong with you for not cherishing them? Nope.

You’re not failing as a parent or as a person if you recognize that there are shitty moments (sometimes literally) as a parent. We as parents face a lot of pressure – whether from ourselves, other parents, our community or even the carefully culled pictures presented on social media to be a Superhero Parent. But the truth is, many of us are just struggling to get through the moments that make up the day – never mind stopping and cherishing them.

Secondly, recognizing the bad times let us relish the good times even more.

I, like most parents, have had terrible, frustrating moments (sometimes even hours or days) with my child.

I yelled at him when he stopped peeing in the potty and started peeing on the bathroom wall. I nearly lost it when he fought me, kicking and screaming, because he didn’t want to wear his coat and I held him down in my building’s lobby, infuriated beyond belief. I have cried, hysterical on the floor, profoundly depressed from not sleeping for months.

Whether from boredom, exhaustion or anger, I’ve had parenting moments I’ve hated. Moments I’ve wished away, just knowing I needed to survive them. I’ve had moments when I wanted to tear my hair out, bang my head against the wall, sob uncontrollably and run away. Moments I’ve definitely not cherished. We all have. And that’s ok. Because those awful, frustrating, rage-inducing moments make me so much more appreciative of the wonderful moments I have with my children.

Those uncherishable moments are the reasons I cherish the good times so much.

When I drop him off at school, my son, who is four, insists on giving me four kisses and four hugs. I know it won’t last – that soon he’ll ditch me because it’s profoundly uncool to kiss mom good-bye. But right now, it’s one of my favorite moments of the day.

I try to stop and recognize moments like that. When he rocks with me at night as I sing him a bedtime song. When he says ‘thank you’ unprompted. Looking at a drawing he made of our family. Watching him dance. Hearing him explain a song.

And looking at my infant, I know that my sweet baby will turn into a nightmarish toddler. I know we’ll have our own frustrating moments. How some nights I’ll have to sleep on his floor. How I’ll have to leave a restaurant when he starts screaming. How he’ll throw food at me, fight with me about getting his clothes on and, yes, probably pee on the wall.

But right now, I’m cognizant of the good times with him. How he smiles when he sees himself in the mirror. How he laughs when I change his clothes. How he watches his big brother with adoration and curiosity. Those are the times I want to cherish. And I do.

(Image: Oksana Kuzmina/shutterstock)