I remember when my daughter was less than a month old; I brought her to my Zumba class for the ladies to meet her. One well meaning woman said, "Don't you just wish she would stay this size forever?!"
Answer: No. Fuck no.
I went home and cried for two days, thinking something was wrong with me. Because this is a common phrase you hear people say to new moms. That and the phrase, "Enjoy every moment," with that *wink, wink* that always left me scratching my head in those early days.
As time marched on I was able to pull my head out of my hormones. I realized that people are whimsical about the newborn stage more for what it represents than what actually happens while you are in the thick of it. It represents the hope of new life, the infancy of your family and the tenderness (perhaps even naïvety) of early parenthood. But most of this comes in hindsight. With my daughter swiftly approaching two years old, I look back even now with a bit of whimsy at that terrible, awful, tender, beautiful, cuddly, wonderful time that is postpartum parenting.
Perhaps the fact that I don't foresee any more children entering our family gives me a bit more perspective. Let me lead in here by saying my mantra over the first six months of my daughter's life was, "I never have to do this again!" Having a newborn felt emotionally and physically challenging to me... I simply couldn't "enjoy every moment."
It felt so disingenuous to me when others asked me to "soak it all up, and enjoy." At a certain point, I even began giving it back to people. When they said, "I miss that stage," I would fire back, looking at them through my sagging the eyelids and mutter, "No, no you don't."
But here's my point: you don't---and perhaps shouldn't-- enjoy every moment. Why the hell would you even try? The thing is, armed with the knowledge that I might be the "one and done" type,
rather than enjoy, I just tried to be present as I whispered my mantra to myself along with the occasional "I accept this moment."
Not all moments are meant to be joyful. Some moments downright suck. You can lean into presence rather than feign enjoyment and the surprise is that it can suck considerably less. And if you are one of those moms who really does enjoy every stinky and tearful and hormonal moment of early parenthood, hey, more power to you. No judgments. I just can't pitch my tent at your campsite.
But for the rest of us out there not enjoying the all nighters, sore tits, and other countless moments that make us want to run screaming over the nearest hill, just know it's okay not to enjoy it sometimes. Try not to lose it, but try not to feel so pressurized, either.
Life is a tapestry and so is motherhood. The hard moments in our children's infancy give way to those sweet moments where they say their first word--or sentence--and enjoy story time at the library and go to school, and all the other countless moments that lead up to the bigger moments. It all builds. We put in the hard work as parents to reap the benefits, and sometimes, rather than enjoying, we just have endure.