I hear some version of the following sentence at least once a week:
It goes so fast. You should appreciate every moment because before you know it, your kids will be grown and you’ll wish they were this size again!
I hate when people tell me that. I don’t want to know that it’s going to “pass by in the blink of an eye”. You know why? Because that doesn’t just mean my kids will be in college before I know it. That also means, I AM THAT MUCH CLOSER TO DEATH.
Nothing shows the passage of time like a fully grown child. Why doesn’t anybody warn you about that? They are like forehead wrinkles come to life.
Also, when my daughter is screaming in the middle of the farmer’s market with a bag of organic chocolate chip cookies in her hands because we won’t let her eat one until after lunch (I know, first world preschool problems), I don’t want to appreciate that moment.
I’m never going to meet the stare of the woman who just sold my daughter the cookies and say, “Isn’t this fantastic?! I hope she stays this age 4EVA!” Or turn to the stranger questioning my parenting skills and say, “Hahahaha, three-year-olds. So much life in them. LOL!”
No, I’m gonna stand there waiting for her to either keep walking or stop crying or realize she’s embarrassing us both, suck that snot up like a big girl and forget this whole thing ever happened. (Well, maybe I’d blog about it and then forget it.)
Same as I’d like to forget the massive headcold that erupted in our house a few short weeks ago making Harlow’s face all blotchy and Mazzy’s nose all runny and my cough reverberate off the walls like a movie character on her deathbed. Isn’t a cough always death foreshadowing?
Hopefully, when my kids are off at Harvard and Oxford studying to be President, I’m not going to be home alone thinking about that time I filled a snotsucker with mucus or the time I had Mike pin Mazzy to the floor so I could forcefeed her amoxicillin.
Nope, those moments I’m hoping to forget too. Or at least remember them as I’ve accounted them in this blog. With humor and not with the agitation that existed during the actual event.
I think the secret to enjoying parenthood is not about appreciating every moment. That would be setting your expectations way too high and dooming yourself to fail. I failed five times just yesterday. The secret to enjoying parenthood is recognizing when you are in a memorable moment and appreciating it. Big or small.
Last month, on a particularly beautiful evening, instead of eating dinner and going through our normal bedtime routine, I suggested we all take a walk outside.
“But I’m in my pajamas!” Mazzy said sensibly.
“Well then, let’s take a walk in your pajamas!”
(NOTE TO SELF: Few things get three-year-olds more excited than the prospect of going out in public in clothes usually reserved for bedtime.)
I put Harlow in the carrier, Mike plopped Mazzy on his shoulders and we strolled around in perfect weather at the most beautiful time of night. Twilight, I believe they call it. Or in photography terms, “the magic hour”.
It was magical.
When Mazzy asked if we could go to the playground, instead of saying, “Nope, sorry kid, it’s too close to bedtime”, Mike and I turned to eachother, silently agreed, and said, “Okay, let’s go!”
Mazzy ran around that playground like she owned it, owl pajamas and all. The sun backlit my husband’s silhouette as he hoisted Mazzy in the air and spun her around as she giggled uncontrollably, all while Harlow slept soundly nuzzled against my chest.
I appreciated THAT moment.
At the end of last week, my mom took us out to dinner. I don’t know why the restaurant gods smiled down on us that day but Mazzy stayed seated and actually ate her meal. Harlow spent the entire time occupied by a drink menu and a spoon. When Mazzy was finished eating, she didn’t run around the table pissing off fellow diners, she turned to Harlow and tried to make her laugh. And to make the evening more amazing, Mazzy’s comedy act actually worked. Harlow laughed which delighted Mazzy and I watched my children really play together for the first time.
I appreciated that moment too.
Last Saturday, we had Harlow’s baby naming, which is a Jewish ritual where you give a baby girl her Hebrew name. Mike and I aren’t very religious but our cousin, Elyssa is studying to be a rabbi, so as we did with Mazzy, we asked her to perform a personal ceremony at my mom’s house.
Lately, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the kids, my job, the blog, so truth be told, leading up to the event, I didn’t give Harlow’s naming that much thought. Elyssa planned the service, my mom hosted the event and took care of most of the food, while my stepmom brought drinks and dessert.
Our job was only to show up.
It wasn’t until Mike and I were standing up there, holding our baby in front of our closest family and friends that I recognized the significance of the moment. Elyssa spoke about the meaning of Harlow’s chosen Hebrew name, Ginat Chayim.
Harlow is named after Mike’s father Harold who passed away three years ago. Chayim, which means “Life”, is not only Harold’s Hebrew name, it is a name that has been passed down in their family. Harlow’s middle name is Eden which has significance for three reasons. First, Harold’s middle name was Edward, so Eden gives Harlow the same initials as her late grandfather. Secondly, my maiden name is Rosengarten so it possesses a similar meaning to Eden, both referencing a garden. Thirdly, my middle name is Eve which has biblical significance closely tied to Eden, Eden being where Adam and Eve were born. Ginat means “Garden”. Together, Ginat Chayim means “Garden of Life”.
I swear, I knew all of this before Saturday, but it wasn’t until I was forced to stand still and think of nothing else but Elyssa’s words welcoming my youngest daughter to this earth that I truly appreciated the significance of my little “Garden of Life”.
It wasn’t until Mazzy, who was sitting on the couch in Grammy’s lap, ran up and grabbed my leg so that she could stand with us as a family, that I knew she saw the importance of the moment too.
Later that night, I was reading Mazzy a book before bed. Often, I try to rush through our bedtime routine because I am itching to relax with Mike on the couch or write something for the blog or catch up on television or finally put away the toys in the living room.
On this night though, Harlow and Mazzy both sat on my lap. Harlow was relaxed as opposed to trying to crawl up my shoulder or rip the book out of my hand. Mazzy, for once, seemed content to share the space with her sister. I read slowly, drinking in my girls. I felt their full weight as they rested against me, listening intently, with one of my arms wrapped around each of them.
Mike appeared in the doorway and drank us in too.
Parenthood is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. But there are incredible moments that I try to recognize and appreciate when they happen, while they are happening, because they don’t happen every day.
It is these moments, when I really look at my children, when I share a glance over their heads with my husband, when I take in the fleeting beauty of my entire family, that I hope to remember when I’m old and wondering where all the time has gone.
Thank you to Elyssa for our beautiful baby naming. If you want to use her for a personalized service in your home, she will do the most amazing job. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wow. You got me there….. by the end of the post I am currently doing the ugly cry ( you know… snot + tears).
You are right — parenthood is SO hard sometimes but it’s these little moments that make it so worth it.
Thanks, I’m now crying at my desk and my coworkers are all wondering wtf is wrong with me. Lol. That was absolutely beautiful!
This is beautiful and so, SO true! It isn’t every moment, but the few and sometimes far between moments where the planets align and we can breathe it all in. Wonderful piece!
Thank you. I think we all need to acknowledge that parenthood is hard, so we can stop pretending it isn’t, and have more energy to notice the truly awesome moments (and tiny, wonderful people) it provides.
As the ‘old’ mom looking back on such times and wondering where the time has gone, I can attest that you will, indeed, wonder one day where it went. So keep doing what you’re doing.
You warned me, but I didn’t listen. Now my kids (5 & 6) want to know why I’m crying. Gonna drink in the attention they are choosing to lavish on me!
I’m 20 weeks pregnant with #2 and while I don’t need a reason to cry, thank you for giving me one.
You are so right. Those sweet moments make up for all the bad ones. Any damn day.
Maybe you think you failed 5 times, but clearly, you have succeeded many many more…THANK you for putting to words what I have felt for a long time. There is SO MUCH about being a Mom that I just can’t stand. I was not very good with the kids when they were infants and toddlers (zilch patience), though I was good at finding some of the wonder of that age everyday. Now that they are both out of diapers (FREEDOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!) [yes, I typed that in my best Mel Gibson in Braveheart voice], I am in a place where I am enjoying Motherhood so much more….I still get irked when people say “It goes so fast!” because usually those are the moments I want to end at lightening speed, but yeah, if I could slow that clock down just a little…
Oh, and the pic of you and the girls with Little Harlow having her hands up in a “I don’t know WHAT is going on” gesture…Just about killed me with the cute! Priceless!
I adore this post.
Last night was a particularly difficult night in our house. I haven’t been sleeping well, refusing to find the time to see a doctor to get something to ease that .. Summer vacation is here (Em’s first from “real school”) .. Husband working hard and hoping for change with his employment.
I had decided to go to bed early, in hopes of actually sleeping a decent amount … it didn’t work out as planned. The three of us were at each others throats, all screaming things that were hurtful, unkind, disrespectful and completely out of character. (including “I am so fed up, I don’t want this anymore” — ME)
It is posts like this that make me stop and remember the OTHER times – the times that deserve remembering – that deserve recognition. I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I needed this. Beyond everything else in life, I needed this reminder. I will enjoy our lunch date today even more because of it.
So. thank you.
Oh, and in case anyone reads that thinking I don’t or didn’t love my boys…I do, and have ALWAYS, loved my children. I just didn’t always love being a Mom.
You so eloquently captured what all of us are going through. Thank you. Beautiful.
Yup, crying as I type. Nicely done!
We were just on “vacation” last week and my husband and I had this exact conversation. This parenting lark is crazy mind sapping and unceasing – remember when vacations were a break?- but if you can find and treasure the amazing moments – they are always there if you look – the crappy bits fade. And it will be the miracle moments that stick in the memory not the catalogue of tantrums and tiredness (theirs and mine!). I truly believe you got it spot on. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I got through the first 2/3 and thought, “Tearjerker? Nah, this is just cute!” And then you went and did it….
Beautiful and so true. <3
I love when you have a random sappy post. This is beautiful. I LOVE the picture of you and the girls in the chair.
Mazzy and Harlow have the greatest expressions ever.
Just beautiful. Those are the moments that you will remember the most. I think the other things fade away as we get older. Maybe it’s a memory thing. 😉
I think it’s true in most of our cases, it just isn’t admitted much in public or outside the realm of our closest friends. We just do the best we can each given day, love them unconditionally, and drink in the moments when we can.
Best. Post. Ever
Thank you – loved this post!
pls excuse the watery eyes and sniffling nose…I have “allergies”. On a completely unrelated note, awesome post.
Dude, I am pregnant and most recently cried while listening to the Lorax in the car on the way to daycare. This post about killed me!
Best post you’ve ever written. Beautiful Ilana.
That sums it up. This is one crazy, tiring, energy-sucking whirlwind of love. I too just recently had a special moment while laying on the couch with both my babes on each side. The most beautiful, awesome, fulfilling, enchanting, magical moment ever. And then all hell broke loose when they went to bed.
What a great week!!! LOVELY!
That was beautiful! I still tear up when I see my children play together.
This is beautiful!! And so very true – it is impossible to appreciate EVERY moment. We just have to hold on to the ones worth appreciating!
Great post. My son is about to head to junior high and although a lot of it went by at lightning speed some of those moments like the temper tantrums in Target could not have gone fast enough 😉
So well said. Thank you!
Yes, there is no possible way to enjoy EVERY moment. Love those pictures.
Dammit llana, you cannot mess with my preggo hormones like that. We have baby number two on the way, and that entire post, especially the photos of Mazzy with Harlow, gt me in the soft spot. I’m all teary eyed.
I think this is my favorite post ever. Definitely made me cry, and I am not much of a crier. Thank you for sharing with us!
Ditto. And…the most wonderful part (for me) is that these types of sweet memories stick somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind. They float into my consciousness occasionally 28+ years later and make me smile. Those tantrum-pitching, jealous-of-sibling, etc., times are very, very faded…..
Susan from GA
You know, I usually hate when people tell me that “They grow up fast, so enjoy it.” But I lost a daughter a few years ago and I wear a bracelet one of the nurse’s had made for me (long story), I wear it everyday. It’s those days where I pray the time goes fast and my 2 girls turn 18 and LEAVE my home, that I notice that bracelet on my wrist and think that, in one swift moment anything could happen and take those 2 rabid, fighting, spider monkeys (also known as my 2 daughters) away from me and then I would really miss the fighting they do, the meltdowns in the most inconvenient of public places, and the most inappropriate things they say (like today at Gymboree when my 4 year old announced that Daddy had farted!). It does go fast and can end at any time…So, I roll with it…or go home!
LOVE! LOVEloveLOVE this. Simply perfectly said. xoxo
Will Elyssa come to NC? My 6yo still needs a naming ceremony to make it “official,” hmmmn. Maybe the next time we’re in NY I can call her. I’m totally serious here.
I’m also trying to avoid the almost tears that are about to form after reading this. It’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing, of yourself, your family, your stresses, laughter and love. Thank you.
Beautiful post, Ilana :]
I so needed this exact post. Thank you. I’m first time mom to a one month old. Some days are magically beautiful. Other days all I can process is how TIRED I am. And how much poop there is. And then when everyone keeps saying “savor every moment,” and I feel SO guilty for not appreciating what I have, I just feel awful. But you said it well – savor the moments that are beautiful. And try to seek those out and create them as much as possible without stressing over the poopy ones. Thank you. I’ll feel less guilty now.
Such a beautiful post. I’m a new mom of a 7month old and you truly captured the joys and pitfalls that we as parents face. Thank you your openness and honestly. You help remind me of the joys that follow all of these sleepless nights and to cherish those sweet moments as they come.
I have nothing to say except, I needed this today. And thank you.
Um, sniff! Totally tearing up over here… Thank you for these wise, beautiful words.
Wow, after a horribly hard day with my son I got to this blog post( I was meant to read it yesterday but forgot, and read it today instead- go figure, I wouldn’t be able to ‘get it’ as much).
This is all very empowering and it made me feel free in a way: to finally GET that I DON’T need to enjoy every second of this craziness and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about not enjoying it all the time. It’s a horrible thing that majority of us feel we have to enjoy all of it, it’s simply impossible, and it can lead you to horrible, horrible thoughts.
But yes, those moments, sometimes very short, sometimes longer. This is what it’s all about.
Thank you, very very very very very much.
I recently told my pregnant best friend something along the lines of … parenting is about 75% crap and hardship and frustration and exhaustion and 25% pure amazingness. Not a great ratio in the grand scheme of things, but that 25% makes all the rest worth it a million and one times over.
Loved this post. Parenting IS hard, man. But also the most beautiful thing imaginable.
Probably a combination of 8-month pregnant hormones and the absolute sweetness of this post, but you got me all teary eyed by the end, especially the part about “drinking it all in”. Love that Mazzy played with Harlow at the dinner table (and also ate her meal & didn’t run around). Love that Harlow’s name has such connection and significance within the family. And totally agree that we may not enjoy every moment of parenting, but hopefully we can appreciate each moment. Thanks for the reminder!
For once I didn’t cry, usually I tear up shortly after the first described hug 😉 but it has been settled in my mind that you are an amazing writer and I am so thankful for the sharing of your life’s up and down moments. It makes the things I experience just as meaningful and less frustrating. This one is just priceless and reminds me that we have to slow down just a bit..
My son and I found a turtle tonight. I was having him scan the horizon for his soccer ball that got blown out of the yard by this crazy wind we’ve been having when he exclaims “I see something!” i naturally think he spotted his soccer ball when I look down at what he is pointing at and there is a painted turtle “running” down the road. We scooped him up, rescued the soccer ball and now have a new member in our family named “Mr. Turtle” who is currently residing in a 4′ kiddie pool with rocks and Ian’s toys to keep him company. =) after researching a lil’, I’ve discovered he is probably a she and she is so far from water because of laying her eggs. The most beautiful part about finding this turtle was when Ian told me “we’re giving him a new home so he’ll be safe.”
I loved this! Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful, I love your writing made me cry… I have a 5 year old and a seven month old. We just came back last night from a 3 day beach vacation and four hour drive, and my 7 month old screamed nearly the whole ride. But reading this has forced me to cherish the beautiful moments, no matter how small or shortlived. Thanks, keep writing I love it 🙂
I am also at work, crying at my desk and missing my 20 month old little girl. This article is exactly how I feel and can never put it in to words. I, at one time, wasn’t going to have children as my husband had two and I enjoyed our time alone and his kids every second weekend. My Mom would ask me a few times a year if I was sure. Then one day my husband called me at work, saying how much he loved me and couldn’t imagine life getting better together and a lot of other stuff and I suddenly realized what he was saying…he wanted to have a baby with me. Needless to say, I had one of those cries where you feel like you can’t breath because you are so happy. 7 months later we were pregnant. 9 months later, after 12 hours of labor, in a room with dimmed lights, with my husband holding one leg and my caring nurse holding the other, I pushed for the most profound 45 minutes of my life and brought our Callie into the world. Just writing this, I feel my heart might burst. After holding her, my Mom said “I wanted to tell you… but I didn’t know how..what you were missing not having a baby and being a mother…now you know…isn’t wonderful” and it is. She is the best of me and the most amazing thing I have ever done and ever will do. You meet so many mothers in this world that still do not see the miracle of their children. Thank you for sharing 🙂
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[…] This post was written by my cousin Elyssa who is currently studying to be a rabbi. She also just gave birth to her first baby! You might have seen Ava Jane’s sweet little face on Instagram a few weeks ago when we went to her baby naming. Elyssa also conducted both Mazzy’s baby naming and Harlow’s baby naming. […]
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Still reading your whole blog (I know….it will take me forever, but I have two little ones….so you know….) This made me tear up. Thank you so much for this. I get the “enjoy every moment” so often, and just like you (and every mom I think), I can not enjoy EVERY moment, some are terrible…! But the nice moments….o yeah…I will remember those!