A friend of ours offered to watch the kids tonight as a gift for the work my husband did on his engagement ring. (We have the coolest friends.)
It was to be a simple date night, nothing fancy, dinner and a movie. We wanted just a few hours where the two of us could be husband and wife again. No interruptions of stories from the day’s activities at school. No settling disputes over who gets to watch what show, what stuffed animal belongs to which sibling and no potty training… even if just for 3 or 4-hours.
Two days ago the youngest had a sudden fever, 101, tired and fussy. It goes down with meds so we keep moving ahead with our plans. The next day the fever is back every 6 to 8-hours. But it goes down with meds. We’re good… no worries. But last night she spikes at 104. <sigh> Cool bath, lots of water, more meds… fever goes down while she sleeps. Surely this will pass.
At 6:15 my alarm goes off and my first thought is date night. <squee!>
At 6:16 a knock at my door and a small voice is crying in the door crack.
At 6:17 I check for fever… 101. Date night cancelled. <sigh>
Now, this is where many will tell me to enjoy the moment; to snuggle on the couch and appreciate the time together… because it goes by so fast. And I appreciate the advice, but sometimes… the advice… it just sucks. I’m sorry, I know I’m supposed to cherish every moment… every parent knows that. It’s been hammered in us from the moment we first conceived.
“Enjoy the morning sickness and back pain. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.”
“Cherish the 3:00AM wake up cries. One day you’ll miss them.”
“Treasure the sick time cuddles. It goes by so fast.”
And yes, I agree with aspects of these phrases, but I say don’t try to remember those times and ‘cherish’ but instead cherish what is cherish-able.
Like the moment they first say I love you.
The belly laughs.
Those times when the siblings are all getting along.
Enjoy the cuddles when the only purpose is to get closer.
I think we feel like better parents when we cherish the un-cherish-able. *Yeah, I’m pretty sure I just made up that word… enjoy it. ;) But I’m tired of that mentality. For me, and I only speak for myself here… I’m not going to. I’m going to suffer right along with my kids and my friends going through this.
Your back hurts? I remember those days. You will slowly forget, and a belly laugh will replace the pain.
The 3:00AM wake up cries are torture, they will make a long hard day even longer. But when they look up at you one early morning with their arms stretched wide and saying, “I love you” for the first time… those 3:00AM wake up cries will be pushed back in your memory.
And when they are sick and you do your best to cuddle and ‘enjoy’ the moment, but your plans have been changed and your chores are piling up just know that one day, hopefully in the very near future, you’ll be on a date night enjoying yourself and while sitting across the table from your spouse you can remember the time together when your child crawled in your lap for a quick snuggle, told you that they loved you and ran off giggling like only a child can do.
Cherish your children… always.
And only cherish the moments that are cherish-able.
Forcing yourself to enjoy moments simply because others tell you to… it serves no purpose but to make you feel guilty. And as parents, we have enough of that. We’re responsible for a life not our own and many of us struggle with our own lives.
One of my favorite quotes about advice was from an article in the Chicago Tribune back in 1997. It struck me the first time I heard it on VH1 in 1999… I was 26, married, no children. No doubt my advice then vs. now would be totally different. But the advice she gives… perfect!
“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.” Mary Schmich Chicago Tribune
I pray when I pull something from the ashes and try to make something beautiful from it that I remember that telling someone to enjoy the struggle is not helpful... but that pushing through it so you can enjoy life on the other side is worth it.