I have come to a realization recently. I really am not a baby person. I love playing with other people’s babies, but I have not really enjoyed the baby phase in any of my kids. Just to be clear, I loved all my kids when they were babies. They were adorable when they smiled, and I loved holding them and loving on them. But to be perfectly honest, with both my girls, it was a huge relief when they got bigger. I am better with toddlers, but so far my favorite age is really the preschool age. I am a teacher, and so I love planning little lessons with matching activities. This doesn’t work very well with babies. They cry a lot and I almost never seem to figure out what’s wrong with them. I just try a bunch of stuff until they stop. I was in the grocery store the other day, and King Toot was hungry so he was crying up a storm. Both the girls were approaching their nap time so they were constantly arguing. I had spent the past week up most nights dealing with the girls having the stomach flu. I normally try to time errands with the kids so they aren’t tired or hungry, but due to the stomach flu I hadn’t been able to get some essentials like diapers and formula and bread. As I stood in the check out line with my screaming baby and as the girls were tearing apart some candy display, a sweet little old lady got in line behind us and told me, “Treasure these moments, as they go by so fast!”. God forgive me, but I wanted to slap her. I know she meant well, but I really was not treasuring that moment. I thought to myself, “Really? Treasure lack of sleep, crying for hours, dragging the entire house with me to run a simple errand?”. I know she meant those happy moments, which I do treasure. But for the longest time with each of my girls I heard similar advice quite frequently. It caused a great amount of guilt because I really did not treasure many moments when they were babies. But as my girls have gotten older I have come to accept that I am not a bad mother. I try to spend time with each kid no matter the age, but now that Sasquatch is older I have discovered the moments I really treasure. I treasure little conversations, activities, and those aha moments my kids get when they learn something new. I like when they can walk, actually tell you why they’re upset, you can reason with them and give them choices, when they’re potty trained, sleep through the night (most nights), and eat regular meals with the family. I still treasure those moments I have with them at all ages where we are happy, but I also reserve the right to feel frustrations when things are turning into chaos. I pray through those moments to still love my kids even in those difficult moments, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy them. So to the little old lady, I would recommend a slight change to her advice. Treasure the happy moments, but love your kids no matter what.
note: I would maybe add this question in lieu of advice, What memories are you making? I think the real danger for parents of young children is not that they don’t treasure the moments, it’s that they don’t even have them. It’s exhausting to raise small children and easy to then use the excuse, “I’m too tired” when our kids want our attention. But take the time to read that one extra story, make that fort even though you’ll have to clean it up. I won’t look back and regret the crying, but I will regret not spending more time paying attention to my kids.