Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dear Mama - An Apology

Warning: This is not about the quilts. Feel free to skip if you are looking for quilty goodness today.

Also, this is not an apology to my own dear mama for the hell that was my teenagerhood.  There's not enough space on the internet for that.

This is an open letter of apology to all the mamas I've almost certainly offended over the last several years by making comments like:

"Don't blink or you'll miss it."

"They grow up so fast."

...and the winner...

"Enjoy every minute."

(To be honest, I don't think I've ever actually said that last one.  It may have been seventeen years ago, but I remember what true colic was like.)

I'm sorry.  Truly, truly sorry in a way that only another mom who really does remember can be.  I didn't realize how those phrases might make someone else feel - mostly because I didn't have the same reaction when they were said to me.  Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with those feelings.

I remember when I was preparing for my wedding, and my best friend gave me valuable advice.  She said to stop a few times during the day, look around, and take a mental picture.  It's so busy and goes so fast that you might miss the whole thing.

And I did it.  Those moments when I tried to freeze time and remember are still some of the sharpest memories in my mind, the ones I can conjure up in an instant.  I still do it on Christmas and birthdays and other occasions when I know I might let the busyness keep me from enjoying what the busyness is all about.

So when I got unsolicited advice to enjoy every minute with my kids, I took it as a reminder to remember, and to enjoy something I had wanted for so long.

I've told you before about the two little souls who we never got to meet before Deuce and The Bear showed up.  I've mentioned the sweet baby who slipped away from me, wrenching my heart as I believed it was the last time...until my precious Grace arrived.  So it made me feel like a horrible person and unworthy mother, on those days that felt like they'd never end, to feel resentful or impatient.  The healthy children I'd begged God for, the cherubic, full term faces I was so sure would heal all of my pain, didn't keep me from having days when a shower or a nap was more precious than gold.

I felt awful about those days, truly undeserving of these miracles, until another wise friend clued me in.  She said that always making me happy was a big burden to put on such a little baby, and that I needed to be a little more forgiving when I was experiencing, at long last, the normal side of parenting.  Which, of course, includes exhaustion beyond belief, disgusting smells, and a surprising amount of laundry.

Aren't friends the best?  When you are at your most emotional and irrational, they can state the obvious in such an amazing way. I don't know what I'd do without them.

It wasn't just the blissful, Mary Cassatt moments I had longed for.  I wanted the normal stuff, too.  I remembered being envious of mothers who complained about the bone numbing fatigue and stretch marks.  I prayed for this!  So I gave myself permission to be normal - including the part where you just want five minutes in the bathroom alone.  

That's why, when someone with older children commented that I should enjoy it, I didn't take it as a personal accusation about my failure to appreciate the gifts I had.  I took it as a little tap on the shoulder, a nudge that reminded me to stop and look around.

That's what I meant all those times I said it to you.  I promise I was not judging you for being tired or cranky or disheveled.  I didn't say it to make you feel bad, or to make myself feel better.
In fact, as wistful as I am about the baby days being long gone, I wouldn't go back.  I miss those sweet snuggles and the smell of them after a bath, but I also cherish the conversations and the relationships with my kids now. 

I sincerely apologize if I added to your angst in any way.  Though my actual words may have been "Enjoy every minute!", what I really meant was:

Hang in there.

You're doing great.

It's going to be okay.

I only meant to tap you on the shoulder, to nudge you to stop and look around so that one day, when your kids leave for college, you'll remember those moments and say the wrong thing to the frazzled woman just trying to get a pound of shrimp while her toddler climbs from the cart and her preschooler picks up twist ties off the grocery store floor.

You might have to apologize later.  


  1. Beautiful, lovely post. Thanks for this. As a mama whose kids are largely grown and on their own, there are people who have chided me about the fact that I say I'm glad my kids are flying the nest. What they don't understand is that my gladness is not that they're gone, but that they're becoming wonderful adults that I thoroughly enjoy being with in a different relationship than when they were toddlers. Your post says exactly what I feel. Thanks!

  2. Really good post. I always felt guilty about needing some time to myself. Being a mom is hard work. I sat in a restaurant Thurs night with my 3 girls (15, 13 and 11) enjoying every minute of our conversation and thinking to myself that when things were so hard all those yrs ago and I dreamt of what it would be like when they were older that THIS was it. I was so filled with joy at arriving at that moment.


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