A friend posted this quote last night on Facebook:
The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
I’m a big fan of Anna Quindlen’s writing. But this quote is clearly that of a mother who is fondly looking back on her life when her children are older and not that of a mother in the trenches.
All moms would like to live more in the moment. But most nights moms of littles are in survival mode. We rush through dinner, bath, book, and bedtime because we have to. We rush because we have piles of laundry, stacks of papers, piles of dishes, and things that we must do after the kids go to bed in order to be ready for the next day. We rush through because we want just one moment for ourselves.
While we’d love to linger in the moment, we just can’t.
I’ve learned that as a mother, I have to take the moments where I find them. I may rush through dinner, bath, book, and bedtime, but I find those treasured moments at other odd and unexpected times. For me, those moments are often found during time in the car. Driving is when my girls and I have our best conversations. Sometimes I am a participant, but other times I am simply an observer listening to their conversations with each other. Maybe conversations flow freely because we aren’t looking at each other. I’m really not sure, but it seems most of our honest and real conversations take place while we are driving.
I’ve learned to find treasured parenting moments in our everyday life. These teachable moments or moments that I want to remember just happen. You have to be ready for them. They can’t be scripted.
Moms of littles – don’t put pressure on yourself to live in the moment. Instead, find your moments in everyday life. It’s easy to look back in time and wish you had not been so focused on survival. But sometimes when your children are small, and life is hard, survival is the best that you can do.