A few weeks ago we were at my daughter’s spring concert and there was a slideshow of the graduating sixth graders.
Each child got a segment that showed them as babies, toddlers, etc, all the way up to the present day. And even though I didn’t know the sixth graders that well, I still teared up because you could see that for their parents, just yesterday those kids were babies. They “aww”ed when they showed the babies with spaghetti in their hair; the toddlers taking their first wobbly steps, the preschoolers learning how to write their name.
Motherhood is an exhausting, frustrating ride so much of the time. But blink and you’ll find yourself with a toddler. And then a preschooler. And then an kindergartner. And it just doesn’t.slow.down. Not ever.
People always tell you to “savor each moment.” And despite your good intentions, it just doesn’t happen. Who wants to savor each moment when “each moment” can feel like a Whack-A-Mole game, and you’re doing your best to put out fires and defuse sibling rivalry and force a picky eater to take “just one bite”?
What people should really tell you is that recognize that each moment is fleeting. You won’t be doing this as long as you think you will. Taking the long view, a 3-minute tantrum from your 4-year-old is not that big of a deal. If your 5-year-old still can’t tie his own shoes, eventually, he will learn. This all ends. Sooner than we think. So whether we’re floating through motherhood with ease or we’re close to giving up, give each moment your best shot. It’s just a series of “moments,” a lifelong connect the dots game. Eventually we’ll be able to step back and see the full picture, but in the meantime, we can only focus on the dot we’re standing on.
I found myself frustrated with my kids and the demands on my time and pleading to no one in particular, “Please, please, please, let all this be worth it.” Because after every these-kids-are-on-my-last-nerve-and-I-don’t-care-if-it’s-5-pm-they-are-going-to-bed-NOW day, we just want to know if we’re doing a good job. If we are truly on our way to raising children who will one day be adults with plenty of self-respect, self-assurance, intelligence and compassion.
Of course, this isn’t some fairy tale and we don’t have a magic mirror that tells us how our kids will be doing in the future. We don’t know how this great experiment called Motherhood works out in the end. And that’s okay, even if it makes us feel like we don’t know what we’re doing.
Focus on today. Stop living too much in the past and stop focusing so much on the future. The only moment you have is right now.