When I was just starting out on my motherhood journey (which, for the record, was not exactly last week), sweet older ladies would see me at the grocery store with my babies and tell me how adorable they were. And then they would say, “Cherish every moment. It goes by so fast.”
Now I’m the mom with some mileage on me. And while I, personally, am not going to pass along my supposed wisdom to any mom in the produce department unless she’s wearing a shirt that says, “Please give me your advice and opinions on mothering and childrearing,” I do know what I would tell her.
1. It does go by so fast, but usually only when it’s already gone.
When you’re in it—I mean, IN it up to your sleep-deprived eyes—motherhood often creeps by with agonizing slowness. Will naptime ever come? Will this child ever sleep through the night? Will this game of Candyland ever be over?
Then, all of a sudden, you’re figuring out the whole senior picture thing, and you start to think you just got her 5-weeks-2-days-and-36-minutes-pictures done.
It’s alright. That’s how it goes. That doesn’t mean you didn’t appreciate a lot of the moments in between. ?
2. You’re not the only one.
Whatever “it” is that you feel like you might be the only mom doing or not doing or feeling or not feeling, you’ve probably got company somewhere. Find another mom at library lap time or in the church nursery or at the pediatrician’s and lay “it” on the line—wait for the blessing of hearing that mom say “me, too.”
There are few things more encouraging than to say or hear, “Really? I thought it was just me.”
3. Everything that’s good to do is not necessarily good to do right now.
When my older daughter was not quite six, we started her in kindergarten, dance, and a midweek kid’s club at church, all in the same week. Rookie mistake. Only kindergarten ended up making the cut that year.
As a mom, joining a book club might be good. Training for a marathon might be good. (I mean, not for me, because I only run if I’m being chased by something, but for some other mom.) Repainting your bedroom might be good. Getting your master’s degree might be good.
But any of these good things might not be good in this season, and they almost certainly are not good all in the same season.
4. It will be okay.
That thing you’re worried about right now—getting your baby to sleep through the night, potty training, friend drama, college applications? It will probably turn out just fine.
Of course, some things are not fine at all, and my heart goes out to parents who are living with these every day. Also, the journey from here to okay is often hard and exhausting. But with some effort and time, most sources of mom worry end up working themselves out.
And this is coming from one of the worryingest moms of them all. I worried that my firstborn would never learn to write her name or count past 29 or have any lasting friends or survive high-school geometry. She did. It was all okay. And your “it” most likely will be, too.
5. You don’t have to fight every battle there is to be fought.
TV/sugar/screen-time consumption. Messy rooms. Kids who don’t love reading. That t-shirt your elementary child wants to wear day after day. There’s always something that can be an issue.
And what matters to one mom for very good reasons might not matter at all to another for equally good reasons. But in general, is this battle eternally important? Does it have to do with shaping your son or daughter’s soul? Will it really count in a week or a month or a decade?
I personally try (try) to use this litmus test: years ago, the cane seat in the chair I use at our computer broke through. (I tried not to take it personally.) My then 4-year-old wrote me a note about it. Translated from her preschool phonetics, it said, “I’m sorry (‘srre’) about the seat but that’s not the importantist (‘inpotinist’) thing because God is.”
Listen, if it’s not an importantist thing, maybe it doesn’t need to be a thing in your life after all. ?
Go ahead, sweet mama, and cherish as many moments as you can. But don’t spend too much time worrying that if you blink, you’ll miss them. Mostly, just look at the past and be grateful. Look at the present and be mindful. Look at the future and be hopeful.
And if you get a chance to close your eyes long enough to blink, you should probably just go ahead and leave them closed and take a nap. ?