I spent the last week with my family, including my almost-90 year old grandmother. We were talking about mothering and she told me of one time, during a hard moment, she asked her mother “When does it end???”
And her mother said calmly, “It does end. It doesn’t seem like it will, but it does.”
And, feeling the pang of my 21st century enjoy-every-minute-because-it-ends-so-soon mothering sensibilities, I asked my grandmother, “But when it ended, did you miss it?”
And she looked at me, with the smile of one who has lived a long and satisfying life, and said simply, “No, I didn’t.”
And I felt so much wonder, and (can I say?) relief. We are surrounded by so many voices, voices that plead and beg and caution and remind us to “enjoy every minute! It goes by so fast! You will miss these days!”
Then we swim around in self-made guilt when we experience Normal Motherhood, where it is HARD. Because motherhood, raising tiny humans is hard.
Someday the daily hardships of motherhood will end. But that doesn’t mean we have to feel the pang of regret that those were the “good old days” or wonder if we had enjoyed it more in the moment that we woulda-coulda-shoulda been a better mom.
I think my grandmother did her best. Then, once her kids were grown up, she moved on to her next Best.
She did amazing things with the next chapter of her life (and all the many chapters after that).
We all are trying.
We’re doing the best we can in the moment.
I think that’s the key: We parent in the moment, not so we will “miss it” in the future, but so we can do the best we can to raise our boys and girls to be men and women and be the best damn parents we can be for the brief years that our children are in our care.
Then after that? We move on our our Next Best (hopefully with few regrets and more sleep).