Every parent, everywhere has at some point heard that dreaded phrase:
Enjoy it while it lasts.
I get why people say it. It’s human nature to gloss over the bad parts and only remember the good parts. I’ve already started doing that myself when I look back on my early days of being a mum. I know they weren’t exactly how I see them now. I know they were a lot tougher than I now feel like they were. All I have to do is read old blog posts to be reminded of that fact. But I also know that if human nature didn’t allow us to forget the bad parts and hold on to the good parts then our memories would be a lot less fun to look back on and share – and half of us probably wouldn’t ever try for another baby!
That’s why when you think about stages that have already passed for you and your baby, the inevitable nostalgia creeps in and makes it almost impossible not to at least think the phrase even if you can resist saying it.
But let’s be real for a second, there are some things that just aren’t enjoyable, and aren’t worth hanging on to, and when people tell you you should, it only makes you feel worse.
So here’s the reason why I hate that phrase:
My baby doesn’t sleep well, and she never has. And whenever I’m in her room at whichever horrendous hour of the morning it is on that particular occasion, frantically shushing and trying to help her fall back to sleep, that phrase always pops into my head. And it’s not because I’m thinking how grateful I am for this cherished extra time together and how precious it is.
All that’s going through my mind is, in what possible way could this be considered enjoyable?! I’m not the mum I want to be at 3am with a baby that’s been awake for an hour and a half already. She knows it and I know it. I don’t enjoy the extra cuddles because my back is crying and my arms are aching from the frantic rocking and I know no matter how asleep I think she is, she’ll wake as soon as I try to lower her into her cot and we’ll have to start the merry dance again.
I also don’t enjoy that I spend all my time complaining about how tired I am and how little sleep I’m getting. I’m sure no one else enjoys that either. If it ever ends, I definitely won’t miss it.
And I know there are lots of other mums in the middle of their own struggles with feeding, toddler tantrums, potty training, or whatever it might be who are also not enjoying that particular bit while it’s going on.
There are so many things about being a mum that are worth enjoying while they last. The newborn smell that disappears all too quickly. Their squidgy rolls that melt away as soon as they start to crawl and walk. How peaceful they are and how perfectly beautiful they look when they finally do fall asleep.
But for the sake of the parents in the middle of a phase that’s not so enjoyable, let’s all take off our rose-tinted glasses and think a little more before we utter that dreaded phrase.