I follow @motherhoodthroughletterboards on IG. They post some of the funniest and most relatable quotes from moms. They always get a laugh or a “Yaaasss,” response out of me. But recently, one quote in particular stuck out to me. So much so, I had to tag some other moms because I knew it would strike a chord with them too. The quote was this, “You don’t always have to enjoy every moment.” After reading this letterboard, I felt such a rush of relief. “Thank God,” I exhaled to myself.
I really despise the guilt that I sometimes feel when I am not enjoying a moment with my kids and I realize it. Mostly, because I know there are some women out there who want to be mothers so badly and I was one of them several years ago. I swore that I would never take for granted the moments I got to have with my kids. I promised myself that I would never complain or grow tired of the day to day. On my knees, as tears streamed down my face, I vowed that if I ever got pregnant, I would always be grateful. However, here I am and I admit it, I have taken for granted moments. I have complained or grown weary of the daily routines, repetitions, and the constant caring for. Complaints like, “I swear all I do is make them food all day,” or “ I can never get anything done. I just want to do _________!” cross my mind fairly often.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve done a lot of reflection regarding the things I am thankful for in my life. And I realize that just because you don’t enjoy every moment of something, does not mean you aren’t grateful for that thing in your life. Just because you aren’t enjoying every moment with your kids, does not mean you aren’t grateful for them. Bottom line, you don’t have to enjoy every moment of something in order to be thankful for it. So I haven’t broken that vow of thankfulness for my kids. Because I truly am thankful for them.
I wrote a story months ago about enjoying the moments with your kids. Even the hard ones. I have since revised my thinking. You don’t need to enjoy every moment. You don’t need to enjoy changing all the poopy diapers. You don’t have to enjoy fixing every meal or have the time of your life every time you play with them. However, you should rejoice in those moments. I feel there is distinct difference here. We can rejoice and we can be thankful in the tough moments of life, but we don’t have to enjoy them.
Motherhood is made up of moments. I still believe this. We count our time in moments as mothers because they come and go quickly. When you get to enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning before you’re a short-order cook for the better half of the a.m., that’s a moment. When your son says, ”I love you so, so, so much Mama,” in his sweet two-year old native tongue, that’s a moment that’ll melt your heart right down. When the kids play together peacefully and actually practice the language and social skills you’ve worked on with them, that’s a moment. These are good moments and they make up for the ones that are hard.
When my husband and I were trying to conceive and I was on my knees praying that vow of thankfulness, I meant it. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am a human humbled by grace to admit that I don’t always enjoy every part of motherhood. I find relief and peace in this reminder that you don’t have to. I hope you do too.
Alas, sickness has fallen upon our household this past week or so. An uninvited, nasty virus has attacked our heads, eyes, throats, and noses. It has shot down all our defenses and my will to shower. I am the only member of our family whose eyes have remained unscathed with no infection. My throat is sore, my head hurts, and my nose is stuffy. But my eyes are clear. I’ve been washing my hands obsessively. My hands are dry, cracked and bleeding. I have a cut on my right knuckle that will not heal up because each time I make a fist or use my hand in some way, the cut splits back open. I’ve changed out pillow cases, blankets, and towels religiously. But who wants to bet a million dollars I’ll be sporting the Quasimodo look by Thanksgiving day? Am I enjoying this moment of sickness among our family? Hard no. Am I rejoicing in it? Trying. I am rejoicing in the fact that doctors are a phone call or 10 minute drive away. I am rejoicing because I can order my groceries online. I am rejoicing in the cuddles, all-day pajamas, and movie watching. I am rejoicing that we can afford any kind of medicine we might need. I am thankful that even though the seasons of fall and winter are always tough on us healthwise, we’ve got everything we need to help get us through. I am not enjoying the moments we’ve had this past week being sick, but I am trying to rejoice in them.
This is extremely difficult. As I am writing this, I have actually been banished to our bedroom. My husband sensed my foul mood when he came home from work and insisted that I take a break. I would have left to go to a coffee shop and write, but I just don’t feel up to it. So here I am sitting in my freshly changed bed, applying hand cream to my old lady hands, and nursing my raw throat with hot tea. A mountain of laundry is attempting to shove me off the bed, but I refuse to let it. I am going to finish writing this entry and try to rejoice in the moment. My husband said that I seem more worried that I will get the eye infection over anything else. He is right on some level. Of course I don’t want my kids to suffer or be sick. But they’ve already had it or do have it and I don’t. I really don’t want the eye thing. It just makes it that much harder to take care of everybody else. That’s the honest truth. My husband and I have to take care of everyone no matter what happens. It is very hard to rejoice when you and your family are sick.
As we head into the holiday season, I’m going to hold on to this idea of rejoicing in all circumstances. While I absolutely love the letter board quote about not having to enjoy every moment, I feel like it led me to a greater mantra (you know how I love mantras) that’s been placed on my heart and that is simply to: rejoice. I will rejoice in the unseen work that is being done. I will rejoice in the Father who cares for us so. I will rejoice that my family is altogether. We may be sick, but we are together.
So as you reflect on what you’re thankful for, take heart. Let go of the guilt and know that you are thankful, you are grateful, you are a great mom, who enjoys the lovely, sweet, funny moments with your kids. Rejoice. Rejoice that you are so greatly needed and loved.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice! – Philippians 4:4