Thursday, January 26, 2012

What the old ladies mean to say


If you've been paying attention to Facebook and Twitter recently, you've probably seen Glennon Melton's post, "Don't Carpe Diem." Well-written and thought-provoking, it's worthy of all the attention it's getting.

As I read her post, though, I realized something rather startling:

I'm one of the old ladies in the grocery store.

Okay, so I'm not really that old. I'm 48. And my kids are not all grown and gone from home. But the truth is that when I see a mom with little kids, I experience a bunch of mixed emotions. There's a part of me that thinks, "Boy, I'm glad I don't need a cart with seat belts any more." But there's a bigger part of me that thinks, "Don't I still need a cart with seat belts?"

What the old ladies really mean is that they're jealous.

To suggest that anyone should--or even could--enjoy every moment of parenting is ludicrous, of course. I didn't enjoy the moment that my two-year-old turned on the sink taps and closed the drains in the second-floor bathroom and I didn't know about it until water began pouring through the ceiling in the basement. I didn't enjoy the moment when my five-year-old wanted to read in bed and so pulled his bedside lamp under the covers and got second-degree burns on his leg. I didn't enjoy the moments when all three boys had a stomach virus at the same time. I didn't enjoy all the moments in the barber's shop or the headmaster's office or the emergency room. I don't think anyone enjoys every moment.

You know what, though? I miss those times. Even those days through which I just barely limped. Some of them made me want to pull my hair out--and some of them made me want to pull my kids' hair out--but I miss them. So when I see a mom whose kids are yelling or screaming or kicking or making a scene, I don't tell her that she ought to be enjoying every moment. But I want to tell her not to wish these times away. I want to tell her that these moments are going to be gone awfully fast.

Is parenting like climbing Mt. Everest? I don't know. I think maybe it's more like hiking across the continent. You get tired and dirty and sweaty; your feet hurt and your back aches. For the most part you don't need special equipment. You don't get your picture in the paper for having done it. But while you may never enjoy the breathtaking vista from the top of the mountain, one day you will have another view: perspective. You'll know that the journey was worth every step, even the excruciating ones.


And you might feel jealous of the young moms in the grocery store.

23 comments:

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

I like your analogy. Parenting is like a big, long, grueling hike. One that never seems to end. :)

But as for me, I don't have warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings about those early days. Probably because I didn't like who I was back then--the yelling, frustrated, crabby, impatient mom who made my kids cry. I'm in a much happier place these days, which is why I'm with the "Don't Carpe Diem Me" mom.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Couldn't have said it better!

Kelli @ RTSM said...

I think all moms go through this no matter how old their kids are. I see a mom with a little tiny baby and think how nice it would be to snuggle with a little bundle...but I'm also glad that all three of my boys sleep through the night now.

Sue said...

I love this- and I totally agree. Just today I wrote a letter to a younger family member who just had her first baby a month ago and is struggling with new motherhood. I wrote all the usual encouraging things but I wanted to say, "I know it's hard and this is going to sound crazy but cherish it. I would give anything to go back in time and enjoy one of my boys as a newborn- sleep deprivation, round-the-clock nursing and all!" So I guess I'm an old lady, too. :)

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick said...

Great post! I am an old lady too! ;) I didn't really identify with that article when I read it. Sure, I had some very rough nights and there have been not-so-fun days, but all the time, I have this voice in my head that is whispering, some day you will miss this. Even the bad days, I know I will miss that "time" later. Like Kelli and Sue, I would love to have my kiddo back as a baby...for a few days. ;) You know how I love my sleep!!

Erin said...

I guess I am one of the "younger moms" with the young children - only I had mine when I was 36, 37 and 39. Like everyone, the children and I have good days and not-so-good days, but the good outweigh the bad. And it helps when I get encouragement from family who don't see us daily - "Wow, the children have really learned how to clean up as a team." "I'm proud of you for teaching your children to know and love God." "The children have wonderful manners." And I cherish those words of encouragement. But what touches me most: watching their sweet, sleeping faces, catching a glimpse of mischief in my second son's eyes (before anything happens), getting kisses and hugs that could knock you down, and, most especially, hearing them pray to God, thanking Him for their blessings, and reminding me to do so, too.

At The Picket Fence said...

With tears in my eyes I type this...if you had just read what I put up on our facebook wall a couple of hours ago you would realize how incredibly timely this is for me today my friend! It has been one.of.those.days. I truly didn't think I had it in me to do one more puzzle, get one more snack, not be able to go to the bathroom by myself one more time, pretend to be the mama giraffe to my sweet girls' baby giraffe for the millionth time today...you get the idea. But when I tucked her in just now and she called out "i wuv you mama" as I walked out the door I was struck by how I would go through this day (and ones which have been even harder) to hear those precious words! And as I hear my husband and son upstairs reading together it just melts my heart.
Sigh...it is truly the toughest job in the world and I wouldn't trade anything for it! But, I'm so happy to see bedtime come tonight, that is for sure. LOL!
Thanks so much for this Richella,
Vanessa

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Crying!!!! Only you could put everything so eloquently!

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

My parenting philosophy has always been enjoy well what you can enjoy ... because each stage has some cons, too.

A mountain hike ... for sure.

Fondly,
Glenda

Sarah said...

Wait a second, you are 48!!!???? How do you look like you are 30 then? :)
Lately in some of these viral posts that I have been sent, I feel like yelling, "REALLY? Is it REALLY that hard?" Yes, we have not so perfect days, and yes there are stages that take more work, but hard? I always wonder what the mom across the world, raising her children without running water, or reliable food sources, or threat of imminent danger at every waking hour would think of our "hard". Or the mom I know who every day prays that her son with severe illness and disability will make it another day or week or month or year (requiring constant, scary 24 hour care), while raising her 2 little girls also, would think of our "hard". I think of my grandmother, raising 9 children a year apart each, during and after the Depression, with an old-fashioned husband who I am sure never touched a diaper, would think of us whiny "it's so hard" moms. I can guarantee she NEVER said those words out loud. She just went quietly about her business raising really kind, well-mannered kids.
I just loved your post Richella-perspective is everything!

Kellie M said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean!!!

Anonymous said...

What this old lady means is, "The days are long, the years are short when you're mothering your childresn."

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Love this! It does make me think when I see younger moms. There are days that I wish I still had a cute toddler running around. But for the most part I'm enjoying my new sense of freedom and I'm excited about what the future holds for me now that my kid is in college.

Emily said...

Well said!

Calypso In The Country said...

So true! We have been updating some rooms in our house and I have been very emotional about removing some of the babyish things. It really does fly by and even though my boys are only 5 and 8, I feel like they are growing up too fast! If they happen to wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream or something, I am so happy to let them sleep with us since it happens so infrequently now. I love listening to the little conversations they have with eachother and I always love those silly belly laughs! Now I feel like crying...
-Shelley

Heathahlee said...

No, I didn't enjoy every day, but I do miss that time with my son. He's only 12, but so grown up in so many ways. But I think maybe what I get jealous for is being the AGE I was when my son was little! :)

Anonymous said...

Your post seem to come at the perfect time. I just got home from taking my oldest daughter back to college. It is such a horrible feeling. I love having her home. I have enjoyed every single minute of being mom to both my daughters except for those bad moments. But you know what??? I can't remember them right now. All I remember is the laughter, the crafts, the playgrounds, story time and the snuggling. Those are the what I remember most.

The Lindsey Family said...

As an older mom, I can see that parenting is like endurance training. Stamina and perspective are key. No, every second is not picture perfect, and there are lots of tears -- some from me! But I know I will look back with nostalgia. I will miss carrying portable potties in my mini van. For that matter, I will miss my mini van!

Having said that, when we are in the middle of some behavioral issues at the grocery store is not the most opportune time to tell me I will miss it, even though I surely will.

Making of a Mom said...

Thanks for this article! I've read that article and I have taken issue with it also, but I couldn't ever figure out what my problem was. I am a young mom going through these things and have had people make the "enjoy this" comments, but I am trying to have the perspective of further down the line. Thanks for putting my feelings into words so eloquently!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a beautiful post! I can relate. I drove past our neighborhood park the other day and when I saw all of the young moms with their little ones, it suddenly hit me that I'm not one of them any more. My afternoons at the park are over. It used to seem like those days would never end, but they did, and much too soon!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

This is a beautiful post, Richella! I am your age and my kids are grown and out of the house! I usually feel understanding towards Moms in the stores, because I remember what it was like ~ I remember feeling my face burning because my kid threw a tantrum or would not stop crying. I truly miss the years when my kids were growing up; it does stun me sometimes at how fast it really did go. Luckily, I get to go through all the good stuff now with my granddaughter! That's the best reward ~ grandchildren! : )

I was so sorry to read of the loss of your son's friend in a more recent post. A parents' nightmare and I'm sure kids this age can't really wrap their minds around someone their age dying. I hope that, in time, your son will be able to think about his friend and laugh at their good times.

Sarah @ Home, Sweet... said...

Wow, you just made me cry. I'm pregnant, and kind of emotional right now, but still. I have two children -- a three year old and a two year old, and one due in June, and I've had my fair share of hard times the last few years. But this is what I keep trying to remind myself -- don't wish it away. Thanks for giving me something real to come away with this morning.

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