Motherhood is a fully consuming mindset. You find yourself in this rhythm of always adjusting schedules, environments, and plans to accommodate your child(ren)’s greatest needs. Especially if you have an infant or toddler who’s not a great sleeper (like I do), you are willing to do almost anything necessary to get your child to get a good night of sleep.
It can be really easy to become this pragmatic mom-machine that anticipates needs and does the dirty work and forgets to enjoy the moment (also, please see Glennon Doyle Melton on why not enjoying the moment is OK too). This is really not a new concept; I would bet there are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts, memes, and middle aged women who will encourage you to enjoy your children while they are young. So I know I’m not rocking anyone’s world when I nudge you to occasionally step back and introduce some spontaneity into your parenting. BUT, that said, I think we need regular, fresh reminders. Also, I have pretty pictures.
So here is my little testimonial:
We were at the shore over the weekend, and I won’t tell you why it was kind of a pain in the ass to get there because the details are tedious and exhausting (much like trying to rent a car and drive to a popular destination on a holiday weekend). I will tell you that my daughter hates to be strapped down or confined, and this includes car seats. Getting there involved a good amount of screaming and crying for extended periods of time (almost 3 hours). It wasn’t a surprise that her sleep schedule was going to get all screwy and cost us all some much needed sleep, but dammit we were going to the beach.
Sunday night was a particularly terrible night of sleep for all of us (sharing a guest room in a friend’s family home) and my little angel woke up at 4:45AM Monday morning and decided she was ready for the day at a completely ludicrous hour. I spent about 30 minutes desperately trying to get her to go back to sleep while she alternated between happily jabbering at me or screaming at me for trying to lay her down. I was laying there thinking about how pissed off I was to be awake and how I just wanted this kid to sleep when the sky outside our window suddenly turned a vivid orange. I thought, screw it, if we are going to be awake, we’re going to see the sun rise over the beach.
I have to tell you, we had so much ridiculous fun running away from the waves and pointing at dogs and watching the stunning sun rise in the sky. And it really hit me how easily I could have missed this whole experience just being obsessed with getting my daughter to go back to sleep. We played and we laughed and we had a blast, and then when the sun was swallowed up in the cloud cover we went back to the house and she fell back into a deep sleep.
Our pragmatism is part of what provides our children with the structure and space they need to thrive, but we can gain a lot by taking advantage of special moments and letting everything else fall away. As much as it’s OK for motherhood to be hard and grueling, it’s also OK to chuck the rules out the window and have some fun with our kids every once in a while.