So many, many feelings. There is a fire in my bones about this, and I’m hard-pressed to think of another post in which I’ve covered something so hot-button. But I can’t stop the pit in my stomach when I hear the phrase spoken and watch the guilt wash over another mamas face.
“Treasure/cherish/soak up every moment.” ALL THE MOMENTS. Never miss one second of your babies growing up or you will miss everything and therefore be a bad mother. If you don’t warmfuzzy love each moment of every day of your kids life, you are a bad mother. When you want to say swear words instead of smiling, you are a bad mother.
We need the reminders. I need the reminders – to look past the overflowing diaper pail, the 3yo melting down because I told him to stop licking the carpet, the baby attached to my hip at all hours of the day – to look beyond the moment to the bigger one. But sometimes the reminders make me question my own heart and bring me to guilt. They make me question my gratitude, when I am so grateful for my children. The guilt I had in every non-joyous, throwing up, 7 months of clogged nasal passages, hemorrhoid-filled moment was worse than any pregnancy symptom and maybe even worse than every 18-hour unmedicated labor pain. Here I was, after years of trying for a baby and two losses, and I had the GALL to be miserable?? To me, sometimes misery = being ungrateful, which is such untruth.
We do this thing, we mamas, where we punish ourselves more deeply than anyone else would ever inflict on us. The guilt? Consuming. The beating ourselves up over an event two months ago? Overwhelming. The way we see ourselves in the mirror? Painful. We heap enough of this junk onto ourselves; the only thing we need others to heap upon us is grace.
Let me give you a dose of that grace, friend. We need to hear this:
Moms. You are released. You are given permission. Be free of guilt and feel.
You are not a bad mother if you cry when you walk into a diaperless post-nap disaster.
You are not a bad mother if you are physically longing for one single hour of complete solo time.
You are not a bad mother if you are pregnant and exhausted and miserable.
You are not a bad mother if you just want to sleep at 3:27 am and not get up with the baby.
You are not a bad mother if you are angry and frustrated.
You are not a bad mother.
You are a real person and you get to feel your feelings.
Reign them in? Yes. Keep our motivation and attitudes in check? Yes. Ooze gratitude and ever love or cherish or treasure our precious babies? Absolutely. But the moments? The ones lived in-between the big ones? The ones that fall like crumbs between the counter and the stove, leaving our edges frayed? Those hard and real and raw moments? You do not have to tuck them gently into your hope chest, lifting them out in our old age tenderly. There are other sweet and special and priceless moments for that. But these rough moments are the ones that connect us to God, in prayer and breathing and patience granted. They connect us to our kids, because we understand how difficult life can be sometimes, and we gain a little empathy. They connect us to each other, because there’s a desperate need to know that we’re not alone and that we are not bad mothers.
Hug your babies. Comb their hair. Tuck love notes in their lunch. Whisper late-night I love you’s into their sleeping ears. Watch them play together. Help them, read to them, snuggle them endless. Treasure them. Cherish them. Soak them in.
But the moments? Of those, you get to pick and choose which you’ll treasure, and which ones you’ll choose to release to Him.