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Why I Embrace Every Parenting Moment

Why I embrace EVERY parenting moment - and you should, too.

Parenting: messy, chaotic, beautiful

Like many people, I recently read this incredibly popular article from Momastery. I love her description of kairos moments – those tiny snippets of time where everything is going right that ring joyously in every parent’s heart.

But, I think the “sweet old ladies” are also right. I need to treasure every minute as a parent – even those that are painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. Because every moment is worth living, remembering, experiencing. If I embrace every parenting moment, I will have the perspective I’ll need to watch my children grow up with few regrets.

Why I Embrace Every Parenting Moment

My first pregnancy was difficult. I couldn’t sleep at all, I hurt all the time, and I was teaching 20 hours of undergraduate courses (plus prep and grading) on top of a full-time PhD. But I seized every moment of that pregnancy, because I had thought I would never have any children. When my daughter was born, I lived every moment of her not-sleeping-more-than-fifteen-minutes-at-a-time. Because she was the child I had feared I would never have. I understood the gift I had been given.

Then it was easy to get pregnant with my second child, and I got a little lost. Both kids were waking several times every night, and I was exhausted. The days felt long. I found myself watching the clock. My husband had started to travel for work, and I hadn’t figured out how to make that work.

Then, one day, a memory came to mind. I was a teenager, looking after my baby sister while my mom attended an evening work function. My dad was out of town, and she was taking his place. My baby sister was very attached to my mother. She hadn’t been left this long at night before, and she was probably teething. She wouldn’t drink her bottle, and she was starving. She wouldn’t fall asleep. For five hours, she cried. I cried. We were both exhausted by the time my mom got home.

I realized that I treasure that memory – with all its pain, frustration, and anguish. It was a hard night, but I loved that baby. And, even though I couldn’t solve her problems, she knew I loved her. She loved me.

That is when I decided to live it all – the beauty, the fun, the joy, the silliness, the dirt, the frustration, the exhaustion, the embarrassment. I decided to focus on my relationship with my kids when they acted up in public, instead of worrying what anyone else thought. They stopped acting up as much. I decided to make sure every day had time to live – without running around or checking off to-do lists. I stopped watching the clock. I learned that living the difficult moments instead of numbly waiting for them to end would allow me to make the most of these early years.

Last summer I sat with that same sister, both of us in tears again. Crying again because she hurt, because it wasn’t fair, because I couldn’t solve her problems. Problems that aren’t going away. And I caught a glimpse of just how precious these early years are, when children’s needs are simple. When they cry one moment and laugh the next. When – if we watch – kairos moments happen all day long. No wonder we are told to treasure every minute.

Do you embrace every parenting moment? I often fall short, but this perspective has transformed my life as a mother of small children.

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

44 thoughts on “Why I Embrace Every Parenting Moment”

  1. What a beautiful reflection. I am of the treasure-every-minute variety, also. Sometimes I get caught up in the other “stuff” of life and then something as simple as untangling hair from a hair clip brings me back down. Someday she won’t need my help doing that. I have to seize every teaching, learning, helping, loving, hugging moment now!

  2. I thought the same thing when I read that post. I also had fears that I would never have a baby of my own, so I feel like I understand the gift we’ve been given to be parents. There are nights when I am in bed by 7:30 and so exhausted and Otis gets up b/c of teething and I just sit and rock with him and smell his baby head and soak it all in. Every last second of crying and frustration, I try to embrace it all because it does go so fast.

    And by the way, I’m so glad you had your three lovely small ones. They are adorable :)

  3. I am so glad for your post! I completely agree with you!!! I had a hard time getting pregnant and was a little older and maybe that has something to do with it but I cherish every moment of motherhood – makes me teary just thinking about it.

  4. This was a very beautiful post and one I will take to mind. Every time I feel my tension rising or my patience thinning I stop and take a deep breath in my screaming childs hair and it reminds me of all those moments he was a baby, smelling his tiny bald head and feeling complete.

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    This post, picture and words, was absolutely perfect in every way. Tears in my eyes. Yes! This is the daily laying myself down for others that, when I embrace it, means I truly LIVE.

  6. This is the best thing I’ve read all day long. I needed to read this, like it or not. I need to be so much better lately and I feel good, but guilty after reading this. You are amazing, Mary Anne. You are a wonderful person and mother and I could learn so much from you. Thank you for this heartfelt post. It is inspired.

  7. Okay I love the picture of you and your kids, whoever took it perfectly captured on (digital) film what you wrote. Beautiful and true words. Cherish it all because some of the messy, painful memories will be the ones that last. Trying times bond us to those we hold dear. We lean on each other, push forward and eventually get through it.

  8. I read the original post and loved parts of it and parts were just there. It’s funny but I’ve caught myself wanting to say to Moms with infants “enjoy these times,” which I know drove me crazy then. Why do we do that?

    Sigh, it is all too fleeting.

  9. Lisa Jay (family. lifestyle. photography)

    I really feel this way as a parent of little ones too. Live through it all, treasure it all, it’s OK to feel challenged.. it’s OK to cry… it’s OK to be tired… but don’t wish any of it away. It won’t be ours for long.

  10. Love it! I think mothers get defensive with these little old ladies comments because they feel invalidated. But I don’t think the little old ladies mean it that way. We shouldn’t feel guilty when we get stressed by parenting challenges, but by the same token we should savor the joys of parenthood (which far outweigh the stresses) and, as another commenter said, fight the urge to wish away these precious years. I too struggled with infertility, and I wonder if that plays a role in my take on this.

  11. Thanks for sharing your heart. I’ve been surprised how many times I’ve seen that article linked on facebook. I connect with yours so much more and really do try to soak up every moment. Glad I found it! Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  12. I just found your blog through Not Just Cute and I’m so glad I did. I too read the Momastrey post and have been thinking a lot about it. Your post was a great addition to all my thoughts.

  13. Thank you for this lovely post! Motherhood is just as you describe it and I found your post very uplifting. I never mind when strangers tell me to “Enjoy them” because to me they are really saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I dread the day I have to send my first-born to school because I enjoy having my kids with me, even through those hectic moments. Yes, I do “have my hands full” sometimes but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  14. Joyce @Dinosaurs And Octopuses

    I’m convinced that I happen to live in the vicinity of a time suck or something because time is flying by very rapidly here. I’ll gladly try and enjoy the good, bad, and ugly. I love your post and this perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Loved this… as much as I am often frustrated by the idea that I have to ‘live in the moment’ and I often wish people would stop pointing that out to me…. I also know I have need to live in the moment, to treasure each one, to accept that the hard and horrible are as much a part of the journey as the fabulous and wonderful and to find peace in it all.

  16. I’ve been behind on reading. And I’ve been going back and catching up. And I got to this post and… wow. I don’t have the words to say how much it moved me.

  17. I’m setting here eating ice chips – the only thing I’ve been able to keep down for 4 days because of a terrible stomach flu. My husband has been out of town for all of it…….I think I’ve had every emotion you mentioned above in 4 days and was starting to add on self-pity. Then I ran across this post. Thanks for snapping me out of it!

  18. Ness @ One Perfect Day

    MaryAnne this is just so beautiful. You write with such a calm, gentle perspective and it always grounds me. Thank you. I’m featuring this on my blog today a one of my favourites from last week’s Sunday Parenting Party. Thank you so much for linking up.

  19. I’m so glad you highlighted this post. It is beautifully put and a much needed reminder. It has been one of those days over here and we’ve just got the kids off to bed. This was the perfect thing for me to read at this moment.

  20. Thank you, sometimes it is so hard with 4 little ones. I need to stop and enjoy everything. I love your site :) makes me smile.

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