Dear Sweet Little Old Lady in Walmart,
Please stop telling me to enjoy my kids.
I’m doing my best.
I know that I look frazzled and angry and on the verge of crying while I drag two shopping carts filled with kids and groceries around the store.
I know that I just spoke to my child in a harsh tone when they asked for a cookie for the 173rd time in the last five minutes.
I know that your intentions are good.
You probably think that you can tell me how quickly they grow up and how much you miss your kids being little, and I’ll immediately have a paradigm shift that enables me to be a joyous Walmart shopper. Maybe you think that your little quip will make me start a fun game where we pretend the store is Candy Land. Then, my kids and I will giggle and hop our way from the Peppermint Forest to the Candy Castle scooping up groceries along the way.
But I’d like to challenge the very premise your advice is based on.
Do you REALLY miss your kids being little?
Do you miss the nights of being woken up every few hours by different kids who are thirsty or have a wet diaper or need to pee or who scream your name over and over in the night because they need you to put their thumb down??
Do you miss the bone aching exhaustion of realizing it’s already morning because the kids are up and screaming for YOU.
Not their dad. Never their dad.
Do you really miss the days that all run together of diaper changes, sweeping, laundry, potty training, cleaning up the same toys fifty times a day?
And yes, I do hear how whiny and petulant I sound right now.
It’s probably just the exhaustion speaking.
Because I know so well that there are lots of women who would gladly trade places with me.
I know the sadness of leaving my child in someone else’s care while I go to work, all the while wishing desperately to be able to just stay home with them.
I know how wonderful my hard-working husband is and how blessed I am to have a happy marriage.
I know how truly amazing it is to have four healthy children.
I know. I know. I know.
But that knowledge doesn’t make the long days any easier. It just makes my mommy guilt worse.
So, please stop telling me to enjoy my kids.
Instead tell me that it’s worth it.
Tell me about the time that your kids spilled maple syrup and powdered sugar all over the aisle and you were so embarrassed.
Tell me about how that wild little boy is a high school football coach now. Tell me that your unbelievably sassy daughter is an excellent lawyer that loves Jesus.
Tell me that you know how I feel and that it’s okay.
Tell me that God used your failures for your kid’s benefit and His Glory.
Tell me that I’m doing a good job.
No, tell me that I’m doing a great job at the hardest job and that someday it will all matter.
Because there are some days that it feels so fruitless. There are days when my kids are horrible and mean and disrespectful, and it feels like I’ve done everything wrong and that they will all end up incarcerated.
I do my best to find joy in the mayhem and to recognize how fleeting childhood is.
I have my morning quiet time. I pray non-stop all day long. I’ve got Jesus on speed dial I’m calling on Him so often. I pray with the kids and for the kids and over the kids and, honestly, put any preposition you like between pray and kids and I’ve tried it.
I’m doing all the things that I’ve learned from the Bible and blogs and real advice and I still feel like a failure most nights when I go to bed.
So please stop telling me to enjoy my kids.
Everyday I look at them and marvel that God chose me to be the mother of these amazing little people. We laugh and play and cry and eat and love and serve and live together all day long.
All. Day. Long.
So when you catch me at a bad moment in a tough situation, tell me something encouraging.
Tell me something kind.
Tell me I look great in yoga pants.
Tell me you thought I was a nanny because I look too young and well rested to have four kids.
Tell me the kids are cute, and I might just let you borrow one for a bit!
But enough with the forlorn counsel – stop telling me to enjoy my kids.
Because right now, I cannot imagine that I’ll ever miss the chaos of a grocery shopping trip with four kids under ten years old.
I think I’ll be as likely to miss the unsolicited advice.
A Mom Doing Her Best