Cira Center for Behavioral Health

“Enjoy Every Minute” – Major Parenting Myth Debunked

by | Jul 28, 2015 | Blog

“Enjoy every minute”.  “It goes by all too quickly”.  “You’ll want this time back”.  
How many times have you heard it Mama?  The sweet smiles and unsolicited advice you get from strangers probably on a daily basis if you have little ones.  We are told over and over and over again to enjoy every minute and not to take this time for granted.

Don’t get me wrong.  I agree with this…for the most part.  Most of the time, I am acutely aware of how finite time is and so many of my parenting decisions are rooted in this awareness.  It’s why I almost never leave my house before 8:30pm because I so value this precious chapter in life where I’m able to read stories and rock and sing to my babies before bed (the only ones who do not protest my singing voice).  It’s why I work so hard to oblige my 3 year old every time he asks me to play or watch or listen even if it’s the 33rd time I’m watching him jump the same monster truck over the same car.  I get it…I know I can’t get this time back.  And it’s precious.  I don’t need convincing in this regard.  And yet…

It’s NOT POSSIBLE to enjoy every second.  Can we just be honest about that??  I’m here to argue that it’s not even ideal to try to soak up every second of these short chapters of our childrens’ lives.  Yes, our children are beautiful and special and only small for a short period of time.  And we should be aware of that and milk it for all it’s worth…*for the most part*.  BUT…how many times have I forced myself to put both my newbie and my toddler to bed after working a 10 hour day instead of giving myself a break because of this same logic?  How many times have I went out of my way to do something for one of my littles because I need to soak up this time and wound up feeling extra frustrated with my non-cooperating kid as a result?  How many times have I made a parenting decision in order to avoid GUILT as opposed to experience PLEASURE.  I’m embarrassed to admit it…but I don’t think I’m alone either.

Parenting used to be something that people just did.  They didn’t put a lot of thought into it, they didn’t read about it a whole lot.  They just did it.  We’ve come a long way since those times and parents are more involved and educated than ever before.  And so much of that is good.  When you know better, you do better and all that jazz.

But parenting is almost becoming cult-like in some ways.  There are strict and rigid rules and people are judged harshly and almost demonized for not adhering to the unwritten rules – for not ascribing to the dogma of the new wave of parenting (read: I must enjoy every minute.  I must feel insane love for my newborn baby.  I must feel tremendous guilt for wanting to work).

God forbid we’re honest about we feel.  God forbid someone say that it took them weeks to truly feel love for their baby (ahem, me with my second).  God forbid we occasionally choose a glass of wine and a terrible TV show over putting our children to bed every single night because we value our sanity as much as we value our children (something I don’t ever allow myself to do).  God forbid if we feel HAPPY to go back to work after maternity leave as opposed to tearful and guilt-stricken (me…both times).

There!  I said it!!  GASP!  The Horror!!!!   I love my children to the moon, I think they are two of the most beautiful, incredible little people on the planet.  I would move mountains for them, die for them, kill for them.  Truly.  And yet…I still said all of those things above.

So there it is.  It feels good to just be honest.  So many of us don’t allow ourselves to be honest because we fear the judgement from others (and ourselves!) and I get that.  I obviously struggle with that too.  But it keeps us isolated.  It makes us feel bad about ourselves because all we see is everyone else making it look so easy and it doesn’t feel easy for us.  BUT IT’S BECAUSE IT’S NOT EASY!!

So I’m making a deal with myself to strive for BALANCE as opposed to being the *perfect* parent and “enjoying every moment”.  I still want to put my kids to bed at night…but maybe I’ll make it most nights as opposed to every night.  Because dammit, The Good Wife and a glass of Shiraz every now and then will make me a happier Mommy 😉

What about you?  How does the religion of parenting affect your parenting decisions?  What do you do to find more balance in your life?