Please, Please (Please?) Stop Telling Me “It Goes So Fast”

It is an odd side-effect of parenthood, the fact that each and every day you have multiple strangers alerting you to a fact that you already know. Because if you are in the company of your child, you will hear “Enjoy every moment!” on line at Duane Reade. You will hear it at the playground. You will hear it when you are checking your phone and ignoring your children (and feel guilty), and you will hear it when you are devoting every iota of your attention to your children (and feel guilty because you weren’t appreciating the privilege of said devotion enough).

I think parenting young children is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb…Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.

And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers — “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!” — those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.

Don’t Carpe Diem, via Huffington Post

Every time I hear these words, I know that they are meant to make me smile and have a little “aw, yay for kids” moment. What they do instead is remind me that on top of worrying about being a good parent, now I get to worry about whether I’m enjoying parenting enough.

I am aware that my childrens’ childhood is fleeting. I do not need help remembering this. What I need help with is remembering that them growing up is not a tragedy; it is the point.

You know what would have been nice to hear in those early days with my babies? Someone telling me that it’s okay not to think every single minute with them is the best thing ever, because it’s not. That it’s okay to be bored sometimes, and want your kids to go to sleep so you can watch stupid TV shows. That it’s okay to just be with them, and not clutch at every second with a steel grip, ravaged by terror that it’ll blow away and be lost forever and you’ll live in eternal regret that you forgot to indelibly imprint the sight of your child smashing peas into your sofa into your long-term memory.

Read my post about “savoring the moment” here.

I’d really have loved to have someone tell me that it’s fun having a baby, and that it’s also fun having a child. I’d still love for someone to tell me about all the cool stuff that there is to look forward to after these early days of parenthood are in the past – up to and including the chance to reconnect with my husband one day in the distant future, when our world is a little less about feeding schedules and a little more about the fact that we just love each other and love being together (which is what started this whole thing in the first place).

So I’m going to do that – or at least the first part of it – for you.

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