“Oh, that’s such a fun age. Enjoy them while they’re little!” I heard these words a lot when I had a 3-year-old and a newborn. They usually came from an elderly lady at the grocery store or a mom of teenagers. I knew they were well-meaning people, but comments like those often made me feel like a huge failure. If this was the best age—the age everyone wanted to go back to—then what was I doing wrong?
I was trying to do everything right. Everything I was supposed to. Everything everyone told me a good mom does. Trying to do everything . . . and feeling like I was failing at most of it.
All the other moms seemed so happy. They didn’t seem to struggle at all. I, however, was sinking in late-night feedings, temper tantrums, crying that only I could soothe, ceaseless toddler talking, being touched all day, doing everything with one hand, pumping, a messy house, no shower, no sleep, never getting a break, and always feeling alone. Add all that to the constant mixed messages of society. Breast is best, fed is best, formula is evil, formula is fine, let them cry, pick them up, wear your baby, give them time alone.
I remember those early days well. Yes, there were, of course, beautiful heart-melting moments. Sweet smiles and coos, baby kisses and little feet. The feeling my heart would explode with love for my children. But mostly, those days were hard.
Fast forward to today. I have a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old, and I absolutely love the age they’re at. They’re independent, yet they still want to spend time with me. We have a lot of fun together. No, not all the time. Of course, we still have our moments, but we genuinely enjoy being together.
Now, we are edging into the teenage years, and I see how terrifyingly fast it’s all going. It’s streaking by faster than I could have ever imagined. And I find myself being that mom. The one who wants to tell the younger mom to slow down. Enjoy it. Enjoy them while they’re little. But I stop myself. Because I remember how that made me feel.
Instead, I look at the mom I see struggling at the grocery store, or the mom dealing with a meltdown at the park, or the mom simply strolling with her baby, and I tell her she’s doing a great job. I tell her I remember those days and they were hard. I tell her that being a mom is the hardest and one of the most important jobs in the whole world.
So, if you’re currently a mom of littles, please remember when you hear someone say “enjoy it” or when you see the posts that talk about holding your baby a bit longer and letting the house be messy, this is what they’re really saying . . . they’re saying they wish they had that time back.
Not because it was easy. Not because they enjoyed it all. But because they wish they would have given themselves more grace. Relaxed a bit more and worried a bit less. Loosened up and let things slide a little. Grasped what was really in front of them. Pondered in those times of stress and feelings of failure how much they would miss the love and affection of their child. Understood how quickly the time would pass. Been more forgiving of themselves. Accepted that they were enough and they really were doing a good job.
And with this in mind, maybe it will make your hard days, and those comments, just a tiny bit easier. You are enough, and you’re doing a great job!