“Enjoy them while they are small”. You are a parent of young children. How often have you heard this?
Has it made you think guiltily “Oh my goodness, time is flying, I’d better begin enjoying them!”.
I confidently predict it has never had that effect on you.
As you struggle with young, unpredictable, whirlwinds, whose happy mood can last but a moment, the last thing you can do is “enjoy” them.
The people who give this advice are only speaking aloud.
They are really saying to themselves, “Where did the time go?”.
However for you time has stopped. Life is one never ending round of baby.
There are nappies, feeds, baths, crying fits, colic, other children and housework.
Occasional “moments” of snuggles and smiles are often lost in the mix of workload and exhaustion.
The independent woman you were prior to your children’s arrival is a distant memory.
Life is trying and oh so tiring.
Although being a mother is deeply satisfying, early days of mothering, in my opinion, are not normally “enjoyable” in the “fun” sense.
Yet here are all these mothers who have obviously traveled this road in the past, telling you it is.
What is wrong with them? Is it some sort of mothering amnesia?
I can remember a time when I wanted to explode when people told me that those days of mothering young children were”the best days of my life”. I would smile at them and nod, but inside I would think, “Did you go out last night?”, “Are you living a life outside the home?”, “How did you sleep last night”, “Did you enjoy your shower this morning?”.
As a mother I am now past those early days, those trying tiring days, where your children followed your every step, and a child was forever in your arms.
Now I live in a different world of mothering, where I spend time with my children, eating together, chatting and enjoying each others company. I get to go out when I want and I am usually up in the mornings for some time before my children surface.
I continue to be their mother, but now the mothering is different. This weekend my son did not come home from college and my eldest went away for the weekend. My big family was reduced by half. The house was quiet, and the dinners I cooked were ridiculously large for the small family they were meant to feed. I had time for me.
Yet I have been a mother for over twenty years. I have reared my own and other children. I have spent much of my life carrying little ones, listening to their play, and sitting them down to eat. I have read a million stories and enjoyed so many cuddles and hugs. For most of my life that is what I did. I was a Mother.
Now that I have time to breathe I have time to reflect, and how I miss mothering those little ones. I do not forget how hard it was, but I realise now all that I missed at the time. That little smile, the hug, the giggle. The little finger wrapped around mine as I fed them as tiny babies. The screech of delight from the cot each morning when I walked into their bedroom. The little head resting on my shoulder, exhausted after a busy day, as I carried them to bed.
Now as I sit in my quiet house with my children all busy elsewhere I look back and agree those were good days, precious days, and I miss them.
To those of you struggling with your little ones I say hang in there. In time those little ones will be as tall as yourself. Your hands will be empty to do as you wish, and your bed will be yours once more. With time on your hands you will have time to reflect on all that is past, you will remember those precious hugs, kisses and tiny hands.
And I suspect you too will wish that you took time out and enjoyed them while they were small.