enjoying my kids while they’re young

A pastor-friend of mine recently introduced me to a new blog written by a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod pastor’s wife.  I’ve been following it a bit, and recently I discovered a post in which the author writes these words:

Every one of us [parents] has heard the line, “You be sure to enjoy that baby. Children grow up so fast . . .”

Why do people say this? I do not think it is because they are ill-intentioned; they almost always say it with a kind smile or a friendly pat. But, seriously, why do people say this? Do they remember regretfully the screaming matches they had with their five-year-olds, and hope to help us avoid a similar regret? Are they swollen with nostalgia for footie pajamas and sleep wrinkles? Are they disappointed in how their own children turned out, and wishing they could reclaim all that lost potential?

The world may never know. I think, more often than not, people simply default to that line for lack of anything else to say. Regardless of the motivation, I always want to respond by smiling politely and whispering, “No.”

No, I’m not going to be able to enjoy the baby, because, you see, she is a baby, and an inordinate amount of work. She has several horrible habits, which I would be only too happy to detail for you, should you have the time. Let’s just say, between the reckless pooping and her penchant for yelling at me every waking moment, she’s really difficult to enjoy. Thanks, anyway, for the good hearted advice, but I can’t live up to it…

I read that post, and it really bothered me for a number of days.  I often advise parents to enjoy their children because they grow and change so quickly, and I mean it with love and sincerity from the bottom of my child-loving heart.  WHY in the world would someone find that advice offensive?  And, God forbid, have I offended others by giving that advice?

I am at peace in my conscience about the second question, because I know I did not mean to give anyone offense.  But I still don’t understand how someone could find that advice offensive.  The only thing I could come up with is that the author of that post must just be a very different personality than me.  It doesn’t mean she’s a better or worse personality, but just different.  Everyone has different strenths and weaknesses, and seeing the positive side of being around kids is a strength of mine.  I mean, I teach little kids in my job, so I must enjoy being around them.  However, keeping my house clean and organized is definitely a weakness of mine!

Perhaps why this blog post so profoundly bothered me is becuase I’m in the situation where I’m still waiting to be blessed with another baby.  The two children I’ve been blessed with, one whose arrival was preceeded by lots of tears and prayers and acupunture and herbs and patience – lots and lots of patience! – those two little girls are so precious to me.  With my personality and in my situation, I have to be really in tough shape before I start not wanting to be with my kids.  I’ve been blessed to be very able to see things from a child’s perspective, to have an easy time getting down to their level.  Perhaps that’s due to all of the Mister Roger’s Neighborhood my mom had me watch when I was a kid.  If so, it worked.  I LOVE little kids.

So, as I read this blog post from a fellow Lutheran pastor’s wife who has four young children, is pregnant with her fifth, and is complaining about how much she is not enjoying her children while they’re young, but is looking forward to the day when they will be adults, it spoke to something deep within my heart.  I hope she can find a way to enjoy the fleeting moments both when her kids are young and making ridiculous, goofy jokes around her kitchen table, but also enjoy the moments when they’re adults and having deep discussions around her kitchen table.

I look forward to the women my daughters are becoming, and I’ve been blessed to be able to enjoy the moments along the way as well, even the more trying ones.

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Question: Do YOU dislike when someone says to you to “enjoy your kids, because they grow up so fast”?

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3 thoughts on “enjoying my kids while they’re young

  1. Absolutely not!! I’m guilty of saying that to people also. I love babies and toddlers, between all the tantrums there are sweet precious moments that are worth all the cleaning and laundry over. 🙂

  2. This post struck a chord for me, Emily. First let me say you have not offended me. In general, when others say this to me, I am also not offended. The one instance I do have trouble with is when this comment is followed up by all the challenges the preteens, teens, etc… bring to the table. As an anxious person, this sends my mind into endless worries. As someone who is really struggling as a mom of two young kids this takes away hope — hope that I will feel better in my skin some day. And I guess that’s where the comments to enjoy them now break my heart a little. I love children, I love my children but the day to day is hard for me. While I know I should be enjoying them more, I have a very hard time seeing past the struggle. I need to change this and I am trying. Time IS going by so quickly.

  3. Well, I’m not offended…but as the mother of 5…ages 13-1/2 down to 9…I get what she is saying to some degree.

    Usually the comment can come across a bit preachy—chastising a mother for looking to the future and in doing so–judging her for not being content. I know this is not your intent–but it is for some. I can be content with my children and still be excited about the future too–they are not exclusive entities…you know?

    Another issue w/this comment is that sometimes it is stated to a mother who truly needs some help–or is feeling disheartened because she may be struggling….what she needs is encouragement, not a pat comment that is overused at times. If the comment is directed to a mom who is struggling, it can debase her.

    I love kids of all ages—we fostered as well & I loved juggling up to 7+ kiddos…I love the craziness…but not everyone does…it’s not every woman’s strength–and that it okay.

    We as mothers do not need to be perfect. We can be different. We can enjoy different developmental stages more than others–it’s okay! The main key is that we need to be sure to be there for one another.

    So–the comment, while not offensive–can come across poorly depending on how it is used..but overall I avoid it as I know it can come across as dismissive to a mom who truly needs understanding and a listening ear more than a reminder to enjoy her children.

    Again, I do not believe that was ever your intent….but not everyone is as gracious as I believe you are….

    Shanna

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