Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Nine Words I'll Never Say

Last week I found myself leaving our YMCA in the midst of dramatic spectacle. My 2 year old was upside down (I was holding him by his legs because he is so strong that once he decides he is IN IT, I cannot actually hold him by his body any longer.) He was mad because..well, actually I don't know. It came on suddenly and inexplicably and no amount of logic or talking was going to break it. We just needed to get the heck out.

So as I tried to stay calm (and thanked God that I had no other children along on this outing because HOW??), we walked through the foyer of the Y, my son suspended in midair, flailing about like a landed fish. People stopped talking, they stared.

One woman smiled and said "I remember those days!"

And I cringed...because I wondered if she was going to say it.

The words that ALWAYS make me feel worse no matter what kind of day we are having.

You know them. Maybe you've said them. Or been the recipient.

"Treasure these moments. They grow up way too fast."


Thankfully, in this instance, she didn't say it. I let out the breath I was holding, praised God for bicep curls that enable me to carry my 40 pounder with one arm and moved carefully out the door to the car.

So here's the thing.

I get that statement a lot. Sometimes verbally, sometimes people post articles telling me not to miss even one beautiful moment(which I click on for some inexplicable reason), sometimes I just see it in people's eyes.

And do you want to know my honest reaction?


Yep, guilt. Now, admittedly, I dabble in guilt more than the average person. It's my constant companion, the area of my life that I have to continually crawl back to God with and ask him to remove. It's not His fault I feel guilty. It's all my own. Self-forgiveness is a huge challenge for me.

But when someone looks into my life and tells me to treasure each moment, that they will pass too quickly, all I feel is terrible. Like I can never possibly do a good enough job because on top of feeding them, getting them on good schedules, changing them, wrestling them, loving them, enduring the freakouts and public humiliations, I am somehow supposed to find this magical all the time and remember every moment or I will regret it later.

That is a LOT of pressure.

And we almost never know the story of the person to whom we offer these trite phrases.

What if this was said to a woman suffering from post-partum depression? Or post-adoption blues? The parent who has a child with severe needs who is just beyond exhausted and doesn't know how he or she will do it again tomorrow? The father who cannot connect with his son or daughter and blames himself for somehow not being a good enough dad? The mom who battled her two-year-old from 7 am to 7 pm yesterday and had just enough energy to physically put herself to bed just after?

Yes, some day I will probably look back and miss some elements of when they were tiny. Heck, some days I manage to treasure it in the now, I really do.  When we are having a good day and the boys are reading to the baby or the older ones are tickle-wrestling and the giggles are abundant. Even when some of the moments are hard but I can see the progress we're making, I can find moments to pause, to reflect, to be thankful, to see the magic in childhood.

But on the days where I am just covered in spit up, when I've been kicked in the head trying to get someone in the car, wrestled two squirming humans through 12 diaper changes, forgotten what it feels like just to be a clean, reasonable woman...on those days, we just do life. Without magic or treasure.

Maybe the women who say this (and I have NEVER had a man say it) to me really felt in their element during the young years or maybe they are in the midst of it now and by speaking it aloud they are trying to remind themselves. But I've said it before and I'll say it again- we all have different gifts. I feel like I'm a pretty darn good mama some days, especially to my 9 year old. I am willing to play crazy games, chase him around the yard, shoot goals on him so he can practice soccer, paint cardboard to help him make a lego city, curl up for an hour reading Harry Potter together. I feel good at it.

But the younger years? Every day I wake up and have to ask God for deep grace and patience because the younger years don't come naturally to me. I'm not a "baby" person. I don't look at them and think "Oh, don't grow up!" I look at them and think "hmmm..if you could tell me rationally and eloquently using your words, we wouldn't be having this miscommunication." Or, rather, I would think that if my brain were capable of such verbiage in the midst of someone kicking me in the head.

All this to say, you can go on saying those nine words to people if you really want to. I, however, will not. I don't know their story, I don't know their gifts.

What I will say is this:

"I see you. You might be great at this right now or it might not be your strength. But you're trying and that's what matters. God's got the rest." 


  1. Thank you for this! My favorite is when people ask "No, how's it really going?" And I say something like "Honestly, I'm exhausted. My kid thinks he's too cool to sleep and that I need to be up and active with him" And often I get "You've got to treasure those quiet moments in the middle of the night where it's just you and him." And I want to cry, because, I can't treasure anything I can barely wrap my exhausted-haven't-slept-through-a-night-in-two-years brain around. I personally feel like SURVIVING these moments is a victory.

    1. You know, I think sleep deprivation doesn't affect some people and for the rest of us, it is a total trainwreck for us! Hang in there- I only occasionally treasured a middle of the night cuddle and never felt guilty when I didn't!