This is my latests post on Growingkids.org: http://www.growingkids.org/2008/09/29/enjoy-the-moment/
I think one of the hardest things for humans to do is to be happy where they are in life. “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This isn’t always necessarily a bad trait. It motivates us to improve our lives and surroundings. It helps us to improve ourselves. But it can also help us to be unhappy with our current situation and always look hopefully to the future without enjoying the present. It is this weakness I wish to address today.
I talk about this often, perhaps because it is something that I have trouble with and find myself continually working on it. I encourage everyone (including myself) to learn to enjoy each stage of life for what it is. I often hear young mothers long for the future when they will have time to do all the things they want to do, and older mothers long for those fun times with their young children. It is good to have goals and good to have fond memories, but we mustn’t let these two things rob us of the life we are currently living.
Let’s take stages of our children’s lives. I have often shared that my least favorite stage is the newborn stage. I much prefer the toddler stage, and I love having conversations with my son. I have good friends whose favorite stage is the newborn stage. Everyone has their preferred stages. When we recognize that each stage has its benefits and its drawbacks, we can learn to be happy where we are. There isn’t a stage where everything is perfect. You have long nights of newborn life, tantrums of toddlerhood, talking back of pre-teens, and power struggles with teenagers. We minimize these difficulties through applied principles of the –wise series, but we still encounter difficulties along the way. We also have the good qualities of stages. Newborns don’t talk back and are content to cuddle with you, toddlers are constantly learning and are fascinated with every detail of life around them, pre-teens amaze us with their intelligence, and in teen years we can start to really enjoy the fruits of our labors as our children-turning-adults make wise decisions. Whatever stage(s) your child(ren) is at, I encourage you to focus on the things you love about it—enjoy each good thing that you will never see again from that child.
There is also a major lifestyle difference among all the stages of life. As a mother with two young children, I have certain times of day that we I “stuck” home, except in those extenuating circumstances when we take advantage of flexibility in our schedule. For naptime, we are home each day. This limits the number of hours we can spend running errands or playing at the park. Also, no matter how well behaved your children are, it is hard to run errands with them.
Right now, I am also pregnant with my third child. Pregnancy is hard on me; I am one of those women who is really, really sick 24 hours a day for 9 months. One day a few weeks ago, a sweet friend of mine dropped by unexpectedly with dinner for my family. This friend of mine has no children. She and her husband have been trying to have children for 4-5 years. They have tried in-vitro several times without success, and are now waiting with many other parents to be chosen as adoptive parents.
I looked at her that day as she stood in my kitchen, hair all perfect, body unaffected by children, able to come and go as she pleases, and for a fleeting moment, I envied her and longed for the day to come when I could be back to that position in life. It quickly passed me, though, and I realized she, too, must envy me. I have children. I might have a hard time being pregnant, but she will likely never know what it feels like to be pregnant. She lives each day wondering if it will be the day she gets a phone call telling her they have been chosen to adopt a baby. She might have freedom right now, but she doesn’t want it. She longs to be in the position I am: sick, pregnant, and stuck and home each afternoon as the children take a nap. I knew my desires were selfish and that I needed to realign myself and be grateful for the many blessings I have.
I have also watched women whose children are grown and getting married fall into a state of depression as they “lost” their children. They went through the marriage of their children unhappy, mourning the loss of a child rather than celebrating the addition of one. What a tragedy and loss of a moment that will never happen again.
You will be much happier in life as you come to be able to enjoy each stage of your life for what it is. Some stages will be harder for you than others. There will be stages where you wish you could freeze everyone and live that moment forever. Find the good of where you are. Relish every moment. Time does not wait while you feel sorry for yourself; take advantage of each moment you have in life, and you can be truly happy.