“Treasure every moment, because children grow up so fast” is a statement that every parent has heard at some time usually from some old person who has seen more of life then us. (I also have been known to say this to random new parents which is probably because I love, love children.) I have read some blogs and heard some parents say this is an inaccurate statement and how it is ridiculous to think that you should treasure such moments as the puking, pants pooping, etc. because although childhood flies by fast, these are not the moments that should be cherished. I disagree.
I am a sister to eight, a mother of five, and now a first time grandmother. I have been fully in the trenches and still fully am, so I am idealizing nothing. Today I am home with a fussy, sick, impossibly demanding four year old who has been known to frequently go potty in his pants even though he knows how to go to the potty and has for the past two years. He has been coughing in my food, my face, and wiping snot on me, my bed, and everywhere else. He has been completely unreasonable about everything. I try to give him medicine, to which he fusses “Noooo medicine. Nothing will heal me. I am going to be dead.” He is obviously dramatic and he is very stubborn. These are the moments that so many people say should not be treasured, yet I still disagree.
Days like these should be treasured. All this fussiness equals just as many snuggles and sleepily watching tv cartoons on the couch together. So, I treasure the fussing because of the snuggling and that the children come to me and trust me to help them feel better.
The sickness means healing and not every mommy gets to see their child healed from sickness, so I treasure the sickness because it shows that we are fully dependent on the Lord for the healing. I treasure the sickness because of the healing, and because of the strength that God gives us for the moments when the healing doesn’t take place.
One hot summer day recently, my son got carsick and puked everywhere in his carseat. I
cleaned it up and then on our very next trip, child #2 got carsick and puked all over her carseat and
the car. We had to drive the rest of the way home with the other 3 kids complaining as the smell of
vomit baking in the car became too intense to handle. Though cleaning puke from a carseat or anywhere else is one of the most dreaded task for any parent, I treasure even the vomit cleaning because it also means that there is comfort. I treasure comforting my upset little one and cleaning them up to help them feel better (and far less smelly too).
Four out of five of my children have horrible allergies and so what I am wearing each day seems to become the tissue of choice for my little ones. I find snot on my waist, my shoulders, my pillow–snot everywhere. I joke that it is my mom badge and that every good mom has some somewhere (drool also pertains). I treasure the yucky fluids because it means that my kids want to be near me even if it is just to wipe their nose on my brand new dress as I try to leave the house. I treasure the nearness.
So, what do I treasure about the thousands of dirty diapers and accident filled undies? I treasure that they don’t last forever and they signify development. As kids grow, they develop from those yucky pants into big girl or boy undies and there is celebration in that development. When my first child was an infant, one of my cheer teammate’s mother’s was watching her during a game and during a diaper change, she got peed on. The funny thing was that she said she missed baby pee which I thought was crazy until now, even as a young grandmother who has a youngest child just a few years older, there is something that I already miss about those tiny diapers and mustard poops. It all goes by so fast–in a blink of an eye it is over.
I was at a get together recently and a mother of one sweetly and naively asked me how many loads of laundry I did exclaiming that it must be several times per week. I laughed and told her I do two to three loads per day and that it would be a huge break if it were only several times per week. The laundry itself is a full time job. Yesterday, I literally spent the entire day doing laundry and the dreaded winter/summer clothing exchange. Should I treasure the piles and piles of laundry too? I definitely don’t treasure the mountains of laundry until it is time to put a particular size away and I realize it is the last time my child will wear that size. The sweet memories of them in those clothes reminds me of all the good memories that we have had from the past season and how much they have grown that year. I think I mourn the growth as much as I treasure and celebrate it, because I want to bottle them all up and keep them young forever.
Yesterday as I tried to accomplish the monumental clothing task before me, I was interrupted less than every five minutes by one child or another needing something. I begged the kids to please, please leave me alone so that I could accomplish at least one thing with out the constant interruption. Sometimes as a mom it seems unending. No matter how many times I tell my children to not bang on the bathroom door and try to ask me questions through it while I shower, they still do it, interrupting my one chance for a moment of solace. Moments like these drive you crazy, but then these little ones turn into teenagers or college students and you find yourself lucky to get a text asking where the best place to order Chinese is. Things so quickly change. It is similar to the phenomena where you can’t wait to get your children asleep because they have been driving you crazy, but then as soon as you do you miss them. You want to wake them up again, snuggle them, play with them, but instead you just gently kiss, watch, or hug your sleeping angels. The moments that drive you crazy are the same moments that you crave as soon as they are gone.
I know that there is a whole gamut of things that I am not covering–really difficult moments that make walls painted in poop seem like an afternoon of fun artistry. There are disrespectful teenagers, drugs, fighting, hospital visits, prison, failure, addiction, and so many other devastating moments that parents face with their children. How do we treasure these moments? Maybe we don’t right away…maybe we wait and see how God’s hand works in that situation and treasure the outcome. I know that our newest addition to our family, our 18 year old has gone through more pain and tragedy then any child should experience in a lifetime and yet, she hates when people pity her or feel sorry for her for spending her life in foster care and all t
he other hardship she has endured. Why does she hate this reaction so much? Simply because she sees how God’s hand has worked in her life and she sees the beauty that He has made out of the ashes out of others hurtful and sinful choices that have effected her life. She might not treasure each horrible experience, but as a whole she does because it has made her who she is today. She always says that she would never change anything–never go back and try to escape the misery because she treasures who she is today and we greatly treasure her too and who God made her to be. If you ever met her, you would see what we see…someone so beautiful, so resilient, so smart, and so loving. Like her, we treasure the strength and life that God has given her as it has made her exactly who He wanted her to be…His child, His treasure.
I am far from a perfect mom and I don’t always see the joy in the messiest of moments, but I should because it is there. Sometimes we fail to see the beauty of the moment when we are in it, but it is there even beneath the sometimes yucky, pukey, disgusting, surface. Often, those moments also happen to be the things that if we can find humor in, are the tales that we tell over and over again laughing about them for years. So I will choose to treasure every moment, maybe not while I am in it, but I will eventually. I may still complain about food stuck to the walls, childrens’ toenails in my hair, or finding disgusting diapers in hidden, unlikely, locations, but I will also find a way to treasure these moments for they won’t last forever. One day I will look back and miss even the seemingly worst of mommy days. Why? Those are the days that often reveal the best parts of motherhood. The parts that we overlook or take for granted. The moments when what we are doing is making a real difference–the moments that create character. Life is never smooth sailing, but if we can treasure the difficult moments then the easy moments will be better appreciated, enjoyed, and impacting. If we teach our children to navigate the storms with appreciation for the character strengths that they bring, then they will learn to treasure and grow from the trying moments too. Each of my children are wonderful gifts from God, gifts that should be treasured for who they are…as well as for the moments that they create. So, I am choosing to “treasure every moment”, because my children are really growing up too fast.