“You’re going to miss this someday.” Does that statement bring on the eye rolls or what?
Remember that time you were out in public and your kids were acting like total beasts?
If you’re like me, you can probably recall dozens of moments when your kids embarrassed you in public. Or, when you were embarrassed because you lost it in public because your kids were behaving badly.
While I can indeed recall several instances of the rotten kid/mama losing it combo, the Costco Incident of 2015 is one that sticks out in my mind. My husband was out of town, and I decided it would be a good idea to take my two rambunctious five-year-olds out for an afternoon of bulk shopping and food samples. Once inside, I decided to wheel my giant shopping cart over to the wine section. You might think taking two small boys into a small space containing displays of glass bottles was sort of a bad call, but I need you to pay attention to the part where I said my husband was out of town and it was just me and my two rambunctious five-year-olds. I might not have been thinking clearly. And by rambunctious, I mean wild. And yes, I know the whole moms and wine thing is cliché. It is what it is.
I’m going to spare you the full play-by-play, mostly because I’m not sure I could get through the re-telling without needing a Xanax, but it involved broken glass, swear words, and the destruction of several innocent avocados. It did not involve lacerations or Child Protective Services, so there’s that.
The Costco Incident of 2015 earned me some definite side-eye from the shoppers who just wanted to get their jumbo pallets of toilet paper and free samples of frozen pizza and go home. I apologized about 73 times to the man who had to clean up after us and attempted that “woo-sah” yoga breathing in hopes that it would restore my heart rate to normal. While I was attempting to get myself together and finish my very unwise errand, an older woman came up to me, patted my hand in a way that was probably meant to be reassuring, and said, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but you’re going miss all this one day.” She gestured to my boys, who were by this time occupying the shopping cart along with the one bottle of Kirkland brand Chardonnay that remained intact and a bag of mangled avocados. One kid was crying inconsolably because I’d yelled at him. The kid who was not crying was cheerfully digging in his nose. The woman smiled at my boys and said, “Be nice to your mama,” and then she was gone.
I’ve been a mom for a long time. Today, I have two seven-year-old sons and a 24-year-old daughter. I’m free and clear of the butt-wiping stage and on temporary pause from the teen eye-roll phase. As best I can recall, I have never wished I could clean poop from someone’s behind “just one more time” or longed for the days when my daughter rolled her eyes so vigorously that I feared she’d be forever looking at her own optic nerve.
I don’t remember what exactly I said to the nice lady in Costco. I probably smiled thinly and mumbled something that was an attempt at politeness and steered my way to the checkout while avoiding eye contact with…well, everyone in Costco.
Why do women with older kids always make it a point to tell women with younger kids that “[they’re] going to miss this?” Does a switch flip at a certain point in our lives that makes us start spouting that “cherish the moment” crap?
I don’t cherish every moment. There are parts of parenting that I’m OK with never experiencing again, like those massive poop explosions that squirt up the kid’s back. Having to use that bulb syringe thingy to suck snot from a tiny nose. The absolute exhaustion that comes from the sleep-deprived years where you have a nuclear-grade adult tantrum because your husband forgot to put Diet Coke in the fridge. The million-and-one hormonal teen moments I had to endure. Being told I didn’t “get it” and that someone else’s mom did. No, I didn’t cherish those moments, and no, I don’t miss them.
But I understand where those moms and grandmas are coming from when they tell us that we will someday miss the moment we are in. We are going to miss the times past. We are going to yearn for the baby stage, the sweet toddler stage, the golden age that is six, the early tween years when your kid wanted to hang out with you, and those wonderful teen years—wait, maybe not the teen years. That was a pretty rough ride at our house.
But, there will come a time you will yearn for a stage of development that has slipped through your fingers. You’ll hold your seven-year-old on your lap and realize how big he’s gotten. You’ll ask your 10-year-old if he needs you to “kiss it” when he smacks his cranium or slams his finger in the back door and he’ll shake it off and tell you no. You’ll have an adult conversation with your 12-year-old and wonder where the time went.
Appreciating and enjoying the season of parenting you’re in doesn’t stop the wistfulness of realizing how fast your babies are growing up and how—wait for it—you’ll never get that time back.
I find myself watching the frazzled-looking new moms with their babies strapped to their chests as they do the zombie shuffle behind their red shopping cart. I recognize the glazed look that says, “I just need to make it through the next hour.”
I find myself eavesdropping on conversations at the park or the soccer fields about worries over potty training, sleep training, or the fact that someone’s four-year-old doesn’t know her colors.
I’m in way more Facebook parenting communities than I’ll ever admit. I scroll through snippets of people’s everyday lives: laments of overscheduling, complaints about peanut butter in schools, worries about too much screen time. And I find myself wondering if we will, in fact, look back on these times and miss them.
When the house is quiet and we can drink our coffee while it’s still hot, are we going to wish someone would ask us where their shin guards are?
While it’s beyond annoying to hear that you should be savoring whatever fecal firestorm you’re currently trying to claw your way out of, try to see beyond the irritation of someone saying you need to love what you don’t love and look to the why.
Don’t get riled up when someone assures you that you will miss the parenting disaster of epic proportions that you’re smack in the middle of. Even if they’re annoying you, they’re probably not trying to. Maybe they’re just trying to connect in the way that only other moms can connect to one another.
I don’t cherish every moment of being a mom. Some days suck so badly that I’d like to wipe them from my memory entirely. I cannot imagine ever longing to be standing in the middle of Costco surrounded by broken glass, crying children, and judgy stares.
I cannot imagine walking up to a mom dealing with that situation and telling her that someday, she’d look back and appreciate it.
But, I’m not at her place in life. I’m not at that place in motherhood. Not yet. I don’t know what it’s like to stand in her shoes, but she knows what it’s like to stand in mine. Maybe she knows something I don’t.
Maybe what she was really trying to tell me was “I miss this.”