I know that every time someone tells me to “cherish these years,” there is a good intention there. Older parents often tell me how they wish they could recapture what is, most days, truly beautiful.
Undoubtedly, I will one day miss these years with my young children as well. Knowing that still does not prevent me from having a negative reaction nearly every time someone tells me to “hang on to these moments.”
Why? Well …
What does that even mean?
I actually have no clue what it means to treasure these days. Does that mean that I should spend time with my kids and be happy about it? Because I do that. I totally enjoy my kids, like, 95 percent of the time.
I don’t really understand what it is you are telling me to do when you give me a totally unsolicited directive to cherish the time. Should I be snapping pictures nonstop? Should I be journaling about every happy moment? If I have a rough day, does that mean I’m not appreciating these moments?
Also, like, duh?
If I am laughing with my son over dinner at our favorite Mexican place, or smiling as I chase my happy runaway daughter through the hallways at the gym, I am clearly having fun. You don’t need to remind me to “cherish these moments.” I do. This is me, cherishing the moment, to the best of my ability. Thanks, Capt. Obvious. Next time you are eating, I’ll interrupt your meal to remind you to chew.
And, dude, no, I’m not going to cherish this part.
I once posted on Facebook that my afternoon had been upended due to a disgusting event that happened in the playroom. Among the many joking and commiserating comments I received, one in particular stood out: Something about, “Oh, I remember those days. Treasure them now because they will be gone before you know it.”
Yeah, this is the part that I will not miss. I will never, ever miss the cleaning, sanitizing, cleaning again, scalding showers and chemical-grade nastiness that comes with having children. When you respond to me venting about stressful part of parenting with some blabbering about treasuring this time, it makes me think that either you don’t know how to read or that the fumes from your children’s childhood accidents did irreversible damage to your brain.
Further, you don’t know me.
Not to get totally defensive, but a stranger or acquaintance who is up in my business with a nagging, “Cherish it! Cherish it!” has no idea what my life is like. Granted, I have a good life, but I think about other people whom this might affect. I highly doubt a woman who is suffering postpartum depression wants to be told that these are the best days of her life.
And finally … well … damn.
The truth is, I totally know why you tell me to hang on to these days. Already, they are slipping by so quickly. One day, my little Monster and I were sitting on the couch holding hands. I blinked my eyes and saw him graduating college, moving away and forgetting to call his mother. I could not stop the tears from flowing as he asked in his tiny voice, “Mommy, why do you cry?”
I already know I need to cherish this time. When I’m not cleaning up accidents, sweeping mountains of shredded cheese off the floor or putting the puzzle pieces back in the box AGAIN, I’m secretly working on a device that will freeze the more enjoyable moments.
When you tell me to treasure these years, it just reminds me of how quickly it will all be gone, and, frankly, it’s a total buzzkill.
Thank you for your sentiment. Thank you for sharing your experiences. And thank you for remembering how it can be difficult, overwhelming and wonderful to be a parent to young children. One day, in the far future, I will come across a young mother chasing after her kids. I hope I can watch from a distance and smile. And if I ever get the chance to say something to her, I hope it is only this:
“Those were some of the best and hardest days of my life.”