I dread going to mass on Sundays. I know it's going to be an all-out battle from the minute our boys wake up and figure out what day of the week it is to the donut store drive-thru window post worship service. The fact that it's my only chance all week to wear dress-up clothes pales in comparison to what I have to put up with for an hour.
One hour of holding a squirmy baby on my lap. Sixty minutes of reminding my 4-year-old to "sit up like a big boy". Three thousand six hundred seconds of shushing my boys and reminding them to keep their hands to themselves. Telling Knox at least four times to stop shoving Lil' C off of him after the fifth time I have warned Lil' C NOT to lean on his brother. Saying to Slim after about the third hug, that I have had enough (we can be home all day together and he will not even come near me). By the end of mass I am all touched out, my hair is a mess, and at least one item of jewelry I am wearing is broken.
Two Sundays ago, I was walking out of mass carrying a twenty pound bag on one arm and a seventeen pound baby in a car seat on the other. The cold Midwest wind was blowing, and I just wanted to get to the car. Instead, I had a little boy on one side of me holding onto my coat, and another little boy on the other side of me offering to "help" carry the car seat. Both were actually pulling me backward.
And that's when I lost it. I started yelling about how I was all touched out and why did they never want to help me at home.
A mom with two older children turned around with a sympathetic smile on her face. "Enjoy it now because when they are thirteen they don't want to hug you anymore." She put her hand on her son, and he visibly rolled his eyes.
A few days later, I came across a post by Glennon over at Momastery about NOT enjoying every moment. Now that post is spreading through the Internet like wildfire. You'd have to be living under a mommy rock not to have read it. Or not be on Facebook, which is really the social equivalent of living under a rock.
Although eloquently written, she doesn't really tell us anything we don't already know. We know that we don't have to enjoy the tantrums in Target, the sibling battles, the four times we get up in the night with a teething baby, the eighth time we've been in our cluttered mini-van on any given day, or the embarrassing story our child told his teacher about us. We know this because we talk about it all the time.
But what Glennon wants us to know is that it's okay to give ourselves permission to not enjoy those moments. To not give in to the mom guilt that says we have to.
And also to realize that someday, it will be us telling the young mom to "enjoy this now" because we will be able to look back with enjoyment on our own mothering.
We can do that now.
When I look back to when my twins were babies, I barely remember the cycle of nursing, burping, nap, get something done, groggily repeat times twelve every day. What I do remember is holding both of my precious, desperately wished for babies and feeling so full. I remember reading to them and singing to them and going for long walks pushing them in the double stroller. And I remember feeling so proud I could do it.
When I look back to when Knox was born, and I had three babies under the age of two, I don't remember feeling overwhelmed. I remember being better at being a mom, doing it better. And it feeling so comfortable.
I won't remember the battles over potty training, toy clean-up, or healthy food choices. I won't remember the times my boys told me no, talked back to their dad, or fought with each other.
I will remember the times we cuddled while reading books, and I'll remember movie night. I'll remember the sound of their giggles and the times they told me I was the best mom in the world, even when they didn't want anything. I'll remember all those hugs in the middle of mass, and I'll remember how all of my boys were sweet and helpful with their baby brothers.
I won't remember how Baby E was a terrible sleeper, just like I don't remember any of the other boys' sleeping patterns. What I will remember are all the cute things they did that were uniquely theirs.
Like how Joey used to curl his toes when he was playing so hard with his toys.
Like how Slim used to sit under the coffee table and read books all afternoon.
Like how Knox used to get stuck under couch because he would crawl backward.
Like how Lil' C would giggle every time I read him The Foot Book and Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
Like how Baby E holds his toys between his feet and gets so excited when I take his clothes off for his bath time.
The happy moments are the ones that remain. The last best moments.
During my single and newly married infertile days, I used to sit at mass and stare longingly at families and ache to have what they had. And now I have it. I have everything I ever wanted.
And I'm going to enjoy every (other) moment of it.