I remember when I had littlies and people would urge me to ‘make every moment count’. I’d nod enthusiastically and try to imagine what this might look like, in real life.
How the heck do you make every moment count?
Those heart-skipping snippets of day when you are truly connecting with your child, grinning hard into each others’ faces and giggling uncontrollably. They’re EASY to count. That makes perfect sense. Count me in.
But the hefty weight of less-giggly days seems at times impossible to appreciate, even if you’re a very, very chipper type.
How do you make years of sleepless nights count, when you’re busy trying not to drive the car off the road into a ditch due to foggy, exhausted haze?
How do you make the most of those days when you feel like you’re doing a very shit job and someone should come and take you away and find a proper mum for your kids?
How do you make the most of the times when your kid has torn his little paw from yours and disappeared in the supermarket only to be found lying on his tummy under the fruit display popping dusty grapes into his mouth?
How do you make the days when you feel invisible and overwhelmed and unsupported seem worthwhile?
How do you make every moment count when so very many of those moments are a bit … crap?
Lost in translation
Well, the answer is, you get a better translation, because ‘make every moment count’ is a secret coded phrase.
What it actually means is ‘parenting is about letting go and gosh it’s bloody hard’.
The people who passionately utter “make every moment count” to parents of small children are opening up their hearts – and admitting that they miss the little people they once raised very desperately – even if they’ve grown into fantastic, independent humans.
They’re trying to let you know that it won’t always be like this. That it gets better … and also worse.
What it really means …
Make every moment count means that one day sticky little hands won’t reach around your neck for a hug as you tie their shoelaces.
Make every moment count means that one day clumsy and hopeful chats about everyday life/diggers/dinosaurs will be absent, replaced by other great – but often less vulnerable and sweetly innocent – chats.
Make every moment count means that one day there won’t be bedtime stories and snuggly tuck-ins.
Make every moment count means that one day the relentless hum of parenting will make way for the kind of quiet you didn’t realise would seem a bit lonely, sometimes.
Make every moment count means that one day, as a rule, you won’t get 27 hugs and 42 sloppy kisses.
If someone with shiny and pleading eyes tells you to “make every moment count” when you’re down at the shops or in the slow queue at the library with your testy toddler one day, know that they’re telling you something about what they’re missing – rather than pretending parenting is always peachy.
They’re actually telling you to hang in there – and wishing you all the best things: sloppy kisses, sticky hugs, dinosaur chats and snuggly tuck-ins.
They’re telling you that you’re in a slow queue of your own, getting ready to launch your kids into the world, and that they’ve been there too and they believe in you!
Make every moment count.