Monday, September 29, 2008

Enjoy the Moment

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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.


bethers21 said...

Val, what a much needed post! I never thought that I would want to be a SAHM so I pursued a career, one that has made me the primary breadwinner for our family. When I was out on maternity leave, I suddenly realized that I wanted nothing more than to be at home. Well, chances are I'll never be able to SAH, but we have made a few changes to make it more bearable. Most notably I've had to make a commitment to be a happy mom and wife and enjoy making the most of every moment.

I still have days where I don't know how I can go to work another day and wish my husband made more and wonder how so many other moms have made it possible to SAH. Then I have to remind myself that not every mom may enjoy being home all day and may yearn for adult interaction. I also have the amazing joy at the end of my workday to rush home and be greeted with a huge smile from a very happy boy.

Thanks for such a wonderful reminder to be happy and make the most of this stage. I'll definitely be rereading this post!

Natalie said...

I need to needle point this post on my pillow so that when I feel like I want to wish some days away...I won't. Thanks for the post-you are a great person, Val. Thanks for reminding me that I need to be thankful and grateful wherever I am in life.

Plowmanators said...

bethers, you are welcome. I need the reminder, too. Especially when I am eating breakfast for the 4th time because it won't stay inside of me. ugh!

Rachel Stella said...

What a great post! I often try to remind myself of this too.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Natalie! It is hard to do some days. I am sure you have some especially hard days right now; I have been there. I am glad to help out!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Rachel!

Shay's Mom said...

I first would like to thank you for creating this site. It has been extremely helpful in answering my many questions about bw. My son is 8 weeks old and on about a 2.5-3hr schedule. We put him to bed at around 730/830 after bathing and bottlefeeding him. We dreamfeed him at 11 with a bottle but he wakes again at 1am. After unsucessfully trying to soothe him back to sleep, I bf him and put him to bed. But he is up again at 4/5am. What might I be doing wrong? I really would appreciate any guidance. Should I be bottle feeding him at 1 to make sure he gets a good feed in?

Plowmanators said...

Shay's Mom,

You are welcome! Thanks for the thanks.

It is hard to say for sure the problem. There are so many possibilies. Does he use a paci? If so, that can be interfering with his self-soothing abilities in the night. See this post for more ideas:

Nighttime Sleep Issues:

Joanna said...

What a great post! All of it is so true! I struggled with infertility for over 3 years and now have a son through IVF. While I was unable to get pregnant, I pined for motherhood. I envied every pregnant lady I saw, every mother with children. It irked me to hear them complain about their children. Now I am the mother of a 15-mo-old and LOVE IT. Most days that is! I have felt guilty lately because I have found myself yearning for the future already, so I can have some "free" time again.

Anyway, I don't mean to write a book, but just wanted to tell you that this post resonated with me. A great reminder! Thank you!

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Joanna! We are very fortunate to be able to raise children.

D & H said...

Thanks. I needed this today. The transition from no kids and lots of time to a baby and very little time not spent taking care of him has been rough.

D & H said...

I was reading posts from the archive today since there's many I haven't read and came across this post...and my previous comment, written during a difficult time when my son was 2 months old. Wow, things are so much easier and better now my son is 9 months old. I so enjoy where he is at right now and watching him grow and learn new things each day. The hard things don't last forever and I have really been enjoying the moment recently.


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