There I was standing in the middle of the card aisle at Target with blueberries scattered all around me and a frantic, screaming 1 year old. A sweet lady on the same aisle quickly ushered her young girls to “help her, just help her.” At that point, on that day, I was the very definition of a mess. My 12 month old had worn me down to the point of complete exhaustion. By the time he pitched an entire package of blueberries all over that aisle in Target and smirked at me contentedly, it took every last ounce of energy I had not to sit down and cry hysterically right then and there.
We were in the card aisle because I insisted that normal people bought cards for baby showers and showed up for their friends with a smile and a sweet note congratulating them on the birth of their first child. Of course, I am not normal. I never was, and I certainly never will be now. Most days that is okay with me, but certain things trigger my ache for normalcy. I don’t want to be the friend that people are glad just showed up wearing pants. Some days I just don’t want to be the person who reminds everyone to go home and hug their husbands and babies and savor each moment they have with them.
Here is the truth.
Even after tragedy, I cannot enjoy every moment. Some days are beyond repair.
I know I will miss his sweet baby face. I may even miss the exhausting days. However, in the moment, some things are just not enjoyable — and that is okay. Let’s all be honest, no one enjoys the moment your little one slaps you in the face, or the week you both got the stomach flu when half your family is out of town so you don’t have any help on hand. No one truly enjoys having to carefully get little ones into the bathtub while peeling poopy clothes off of them because their diaper just couldn’t handle it this time. I am fairly certain most of us don’t enjoy public temper tantrums with moody toddlers and complete strangers staring at us with that pitiful knowing look because they have been here too.
I think by telling ourselves that we should enjoy every moment, we take something away from the truly beautiful moments. If every moment is wonderful, then none are unique and special. I love being a mama. I love my precious baby. But that doesn’t mean that I love every single moment of his babyhood. Some days are hard in a way that breaks you down and makes you desperately count the minutes until bedtime. I know that may be a terrible thing to say, but it is true. To be fair, I love bedtime. The sweet smell of his freshly washed hair, and his gentle face snuggled up to me as close as he can be. The two of us reading stories together and recapping our day. I know it will not last forever; that a time will come when he won’t let me rock him to sleep.
I also know that the difficulties of each phase of his childhood are fleeting and that gives me the strength to find the joy and filter out the struggles. I am sure that one day I will think back to how he made me read Llama Llama Red Pajama forty times a day while crying because I’ll miss the crazy way he thrust the book at me stating frantically, “Again Mama, again!” There are so many things I will miss as he gets older and gains more and more independence, but I will not miss the days that were beyond repair. And there is nothing wrong with that.