Today it happened again. Someone told me how fast little ones grow up and to "cherish every moment."
In all the parenting advice I've received over the past few years, this is far and away the most popular comment. Friends, family, complete strangers. All of them assure me that the time flies by, and to not let a moment pass without being grateful and embracing it for what it is.
I understand the sentiment. Looking back on pictures of my toddler as a newborn makes me gasp with nostalgia and my heart flutters thinking about how tiny and perfect that little newborn was. I think about the beautiful moments, like his first smile, his first laugh, or when he grasped my finger for the first time.
It reminds me how fleeting those "firsts" come and go now that my second is only weeks old. I try to embrace these moments even more knowing he is probably my last baby and these first times are my last.
But I don't cherish every moment.
Waking up multiple times a night to feed the baby when it seems like he just ate is hard. Even harder, is trying to rock him back to sleep when I know his belly is full and his diaper is fresh and I'm watching my husband lightly snoring just feet away. The baby keeps crying and floundering, and I stare at the bed with dry, burning eyes and my body aching to lay down again. I won't cherish those moments.
Caring for my sick child whose temperature keeps rising and whose eyes scream, "Help me, mommy! Please." Frantically calling the doctor or looking up symptoms online and wondering if my child is going to be okay. Praying he'll get better soon, and wishing there was something -- anything -- I could do to relieve his pain. I won't cherish those moments.
Seeing my toddler fall, or look like he's choking on his food, or try to run across the street when I let go of his hand for ONE. DAMN. SECOND. Listening to him scream bloodly murder because his banana "broke," or try to slap me as I carry him to bed, or arch his back and kick when I buckle him into his seat.
Seeing my newborn cry the piercing cries where you know he's in pain but you don't know why. Listening to him cry where it punctures your eardrums and you feel your soul start to drain. Wondering what else you could possibly do to calm him down. Feeling like you have failed as his momma and just want to run out the door and away from the sound.
I won't cherish those moments.
I will cherish the good moments, not the bad. I will dwell on the beauty of my sleeping baby. His smell. His tiny fingers and toes. That smile that makes my heart skip. Those eyes that look up at me with all the trust and love that exists in this world. I will cherish the coos and the grunts and the stretches and the face contortions.
With my toddler, I will embrace every new word. I will live for his curiosity in life, his fascination with the outdoors, his boundless energy and desire to explore. I will ruminate on his intelligence, his growing hand-eye coordination, his developing passions for sports and running and jumping. That giggle. Oh good Lord, that giggle that makes my heart explode every time I hear it.
There are so many things I can appreciate and live for with my children every single day, far too many to count. I don't need to include the tough, the scary, the heart wrenching, or the frustrating moments. I want to focus on the infinite magical moments that remind me every day why I was born to be a mom to these two wonderful children. Why I was blessed to share my life with two people who make me want to live to 100 so I can watch them grow. Those are the moments I want to remember and reflect on with each passing day.
This post originally appeared on http://andwhatamom.com.