Why “enjoy every moment, it goes so fast!” is a trap

enjoy every moment, it goes so fast!

How many times do we get well-meaning people saying to us something along these lines:
“A baby! Wow! Enjoy every minute; it goes so fast!”
or
“A first-grader! Wow! Real life is just starting! Enjoy them now; they will be grown before you know it!”
or
“Summer holiday! Enjoy every day of it; you only get to spend 18 whole summers with your kids.”
And somehow, if we don’t feel that enjoyment Every.Single.Moment of our children’s babyhood, summer or primary school years, there is something wrong with us. We start believing we are failing at motherhood, happiness, or life.

So please allow me to translate what these people are ACTUALLY saying.

What they really want to say is this:
“A baby! Wow! I remember baby years being so much hard work. The first year is only surviving the tiredness and all the tremendous changes. The most difficult part is that you will have to go through the labor pains of birthing yourself as a mother while caring for this new, tender soul that has been entrusted to you. Be gentle. Be kind. You’re doing the best you can. You will enjoy just seconds of your day. You will watch your baby sleeping peacefully, and you will see that second as the highest high of happiness. Then the hard work will start again. But when I was out of these tough times, I looked back at it and said ‘I wish I enjoyed more and worried less. It went so fast.”
or
“I remember how both hard and liberating was to have my children start school. You have to let go of the certainty that you are the primary influence in your child’s life. Now they have teachers to look up to, and friends they want to be more like, or interests they are picking up from places or people you don’t always know or understand. This is a transformational time, and it’s soul melting. But, now, when I have the luxury of looking back at those times, I cherish that my kids were small enough to still come back to me for advice. They still snuggled in my bed, and they still cried in my arms when they felt frustrated. These were, of course, just moments of joy, moments I wish I appreciated more because they faded away much faster than I expected them to.”
or
“I remember when my kids were in summer vacation. Some of those days were wild. Idle time is an opportunity for the kids to look for new ways to express themselves and push boundaries. The constant togetherness is sometimes suffocating. The long, boring summer days don’t always harbor growth and enjoyment. Sometimes they cause frustrations and hidden fears to surface. But when that time passes, you will look back at it and only remember the highlights reel. The sea, the sun, the fresh peaches, the full tomatoes, the long daylight, sleeping in the afternoon, swimming, taking the trips. And you wish you enjoyed it more, screamed less and sat on the floor to play more. If I could go back in time, I would say to myself: ‘These summers days are hard, but they are also beautiful. Get out from the kitchen. Stop telling your kids what to do and just join them to do something together.”

We say, “enjoy every moment” to others because we wish we enjoyed more of our life’s moments ourselves. But wisdom comes like this – we become wiser about our past and more hopeful for our future. The secret, however, lives in the present. Stopping for just a second and taking in the instant moment in its fullness and saying “Thank You! There is no place I would rather be than right here!”

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Nikola Radojcic

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