Something I stopped saying very early on in motherhood was, “I can’t wait until…”
I stopped saying this when I was sitting in my in-laws living room with my brand new baby. Somewhere in the conversation I used that phrase, “I can’t wait until…” and my mother-in-law replied with something that changed my perspective completely.
She told me things change so quickly that you’ll be in the moment you “can’t wait for” very soon. Then, you’ll be wishing you were back where you are right now.
From that point on, I’d say, “It’ll be fun to see…” but I could definitely wait. From then on, I had no problem waiting. Whether it was waiting to get out of the sleepless nights or the days before my kid could smile. The never-ending days of just sleep, eat, poop, repeat. I took them all in the best I could because one day, they’d be gone.
Now that I’m passed it, I do sometimes miss the days where Oliver would sleep on my chest and I could cuddle him whenever I wanted cause he didn’t know how to push me away yet. At the same time, I love being in the toddler stage where he has an attitude and keeps throwing things in the trash.
All you have are the moments you’re currently living. The more you think back or forward, the more you’re missing out on creating vivid memories of your children from these moments, right now.
LIVING IN THE MOMENTS OF MOTHERHOOD
So this is it. These are all the ways I’ve found to live in the moment with your kids and create vibrant memories that will last a lifetime.
SKIP THE PICTURE
It’s so tempting to take a photo anytime your kid does something cute. But as their parents, we always think they’re doing something cute. From sleeping to eating to babbling to whatever. Our kids are cute. They learn something new everyday and every little thing feels so extremely significant. Like it’s something we have to document.
It makes me think back to the days before cellphones with nice cameras. Really, before digital photos. The days when all you had was a roll of film in a camera that was put away somewhere, nowhere near you when your kid happened to do something cute.
These people still rememeber the moment. Maybe even better than we’ll remember our photographed moments. They remember what their kid said or did. They remember the cute look they gave as they did it. They may not have a photo or video. We may not be able to go back and relive the memory with them, but they remember. They got to live that moment to the fullest without the distraction of trying to get an insta-worthy photo to share with their friends.
I think these days, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to not document everything. It’s okay if your kids or grandkids can’t look back to see exactly what was happening, because you and your kid will have an important memory together. One where they weren’t watching you half heartedly looking back and forth between them and your phone. Instead, it’ll be one where you were there with them, wholeheartedly engaged in the moment.
LET THEM INTERRUPT YOU EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
Obviously, we can’t always pay attention to our kids. First of all, it’s good for them to learn how to play by themselves. Second, kid stuff just isn’t fun enough to fill your whole day with it. Plus, we need our time to and the occasional nap time sometimes is not enough.
So you get it. There are going to be moments where we’re not engaged with our kids and that’s totally fine. But sometimes, in those moments, our kids want to engage with us. They either need us to help or they just want us to look at something.
In those moments, it’s so easy to say, “Let me finish” or “I’ll get to it in minute.” Which honestly, for the most part is fine. We can’t teach our kids that they can have exactly what they want right when they want it.
Sometimes though, it’s nice to throw them a bone. It’s good give in. I think in those moments you can show them that no matter what you’re doing or where your mind is, they’re still the most important thing. While you can’t get to them right away every time, if you find yourself in a moment where you can indulge them right away, I say take it.
It’s those moments where you can make your kids feel special and you can take a break from what you’re doing to feel special with them. To take part in creating a bond with your kid that will last. To create a memory between the two of you where they felt important and you made them feel that way.
STOP EVERYTHING AND WATCH THEM FROM AFAR
Sure it sounds creepy, but you’re the parent here. You get to watch your kids from afar and it’s not weird.
Something I lost touch with a bit is my ability to get fully engaged in little things. In a meal I’m eating or a thought I’m having. In an activity I’m doing or a small thing I found on the ground. Kids though, they’re really good at that. They’re so good at getting lost in their own world and forgetting everything around them.
These are the times when you can catch them being their most selves. All their walls are down, they have no motives, they’re not trying to get something. They are simply enveloped in their own minds, exploring all the places they can go with it.
I love just stopping sometimes and looking over to see what Oliver’s doing. He’s still a little young. It’s usually nothing crazy, but it’s always something. Whether he’s engaging with my husband or another family member, getting super into a TV show, book, or toy he likes, or just running around like a crazy person. I always find a smile on my face and it brings significance to even the most plain days.
GET INTO WHAT THEY’RE DOING
Our kids love us. Even if they hate us, they love us. Even if they don’t agree with us all the time, they want us to care. They want us to be proud. They want us to think what they’re doing is important and cool. They want to share everything with us whether they say it or not. Whether they willingly show us or not, they want us involved in one way or another.
The best way to get involved is to get into it. Does your kid love baseball? Learn everything you can about baseball. Go to every game. Take them to a park to throw a ball around. Does your kid love reading? Take them to the library, find a series you can read together.
Whatever they’re doing, whether you can do it with them or just cheer them on from the sidelines, do it. Be the loudest cheer in the crowd, go to every concert, read every paper, see every play. Whatever they’re doing, get into it.
Seeing your kids find something they’re passionate about is a dream every parent has. Encourage them to get into life and all it has to offer, big and small, by simply being there right along with them. (With in reason. Let them be independent and don’t smother them, obviously.)
SURPRISE THEM WITH TICKLE ATTACKS AND HUGS OFTEN
I don’t care if your kid is 2 or 20. Tickle attacks are always a good idea. Even if they hate it, it’s a good idea.
I feel like physical affection is a weird thing. There are so many different views and motives and boundaries. We all have our own comfort zones, but it’s an important part of bonding with other humans.
It feels like your kids reach a certain age and all of a sudden they become another adult you know. They have their comfort zones, you create new boundaries. You can’t really kiss them all over their face anymore. They’re too big to hold.
But kids will always feel like kids and parents will always be parents to them. I think there’s a fine line between giving your kids space and responsibility and making sure they know they have a safety net. Making sure that no matter what, they will always be our kids.
That’s why I think tickle attacks and surprise, out of the blue hugs are important. It brings back those moments in childhood where you were the big one and they were the little one. Where you were there when they needed you and everything was okay.
FIND SOMETHING TO APPRECIATE IN EVERY MOMENT
Even the ones where they pee on you or throw away everything, including the iPad. Every little thing that happens right now will one day be a story to look back on. These moments will never happen again. They might happen a lot in a small time frame, but for the most part, this is it. This is what you have.
Some moments are picture perfect. They’re the ones you know you’ll look back on fondly and hold onto with everything you have. There’s also moments that suck. They are just the worst in the moment. Either they do something horribly annoying or you react with no self control. The moments where someone is walking away upset because everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong.
Those are important moments too. With time they may be funny. You may be able to laugh it off and appreciate how much the problem really didn’t matter in the long run. But some of those moments are important learning moments. Learning how to make your kids feel safe. Learning how it feels to be a monster. Learning how it feels to have no control over this life you’ve created.
Even the bad moments are good in their own way. Every moment with our kids is precious time we’ll never have again. It’s so important to take it in while you can. To not let modern day technology and expectations get in the way of giving your full attention to the moment.
We teach our kids so much through what we do and how we treat them. We are responsible for showing them what they’re worth and how they should expect to be treated. These moments are the difference between a strong person that demands respect and a person who lets people walk ll over them.
Living in the moments of motherhood means so much more than just experiencing each second of it.
It’s showing our kids that moments with them are worth something. They mean something to us and nothing can change that. We may not always be around. We may not always be able to show up when we’re needed, but when we can, it’s important that we do.