When we become new parents, the first thing that experienced parents tell us is to “enjoy every moment.”
We, of course, nod our heads, offer a big, cheesy smile and say, “Of course.” Because at that time, when we are holding newborns who are sleeping, tightly wrapped up in a blanket, we are enjoying it.
We not only lack the full concept of what that phrase means, but we have no idea how to enjoy every moment. I never understood why experienced parents laughed and offered little sympathy when my husband and I were staying up at all hours in the night changing diapers, comforting a colicky baby and/or holding hair back while our sick kiddo threw up. They’ve been there, right? They know how stressful that time is. How am I supposed to “enjoy” this?
With the new year upon me, though, I realize that there are a lot of little moments in my family’s lives that I am missing because I am not sitting back and enjoying what they have to offer. Life moves fast and gets real complicated as our kids grow older and become more involved with activities and sports. It can be hard to balance everything at times and some days I just want to pull my hair out.
That’s not “enjoying every moment,” I realized.
My daughters are involved with gymnastics, Girl Scouts, tennis and they recently started taking ice skating lessons. We are busy. I am a taxi. Discipline is important to my husband and me, so we are constantly making sure that our little people behave well and listening to their teachers at their various activities. Are we “enjoying” ourselves if we are doing this? No.
At their first skating lesson last week, I didn’t have to go out on the ice and hold hands. I had to sit in the bleachers and watch as my kids figured it out for themselves. I got to “enjoy” for once.
I tried to figure out how to take pictures through plexiglass, but I don’t care if the photos don’t turn out well. I know which kids are mine when I pull the pictures up on the computer. I beamed as they carefully maneuvered their way around the ice, trying not to fall. If they fell, I giggled. Why is that funny? They are experiencing something new, learning a skill and I am the reason for that.
I am “enjoying” being able to offer them new opportunities. I wasn’t standing at the plexiglass shouting instructions (it wouldn’t help, I am no Nancy Kerrigan on the ice myself). I offered a thumbs-up to my girls when they looked my way and they returned the favor with a big grin. They were having the time of their lives.
This is what it’s all about – this is enjoying the moment. Sitting back and letting them have fun without nagging them, without making sure they are on their best behavior all the time. Sometimes we are not on our best behavior when we are having a good time. You can’t ask kids to multitask like that.
When my girls are in the backseat of my car, it doesn’t take them long to get on each other’s nerves. Instead of issuing my standard “girls!” warning, I just smile, make them figure it out on their own and keep driving. I am enjoying their little sibling rivalry because it may not last long. I am very lucky to have two girls, four years apart, who get along as well as they do.
When my 7-year-old helps her sister get ready for school in the morning, even though she hasn’t gotten herself dressed yet, I am not going to get upset. How can I? Her priority that morning was her sister, not herself. I enjoy that.
It’s taken me seven years to figure out how to “enjoy every moment,” and from here on out I plan to do just that.
Angela Borchert is a freelance writer who lives in Vacaville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.