Posted by: Modern Mom | January 6, 2012

Lessons in Parenthood: Minute to Minute

I’ve heard it a million times. Every time I go out with my boys to the grocery store, Target, wherever. Some well-meaning, little old lady stops us and gives me this gem of advice, “Enjoy every minute of it, honey. It goes by so fast.”

Now, I’m not a violent person, and I’m not suggesting that her intentions are less than pure, but these kinds of things make me want to slap a person. Especially because it’s usually at the time when I’m yelling at Wyatt for the umpteenth time to quit pulling pickle jars off the shelf and relocating them across the aisle, Weston is climbing out of the cart attempting some new acrobatics act, and I’m looking absolutely worn out and disheveled. I usually answer with something like, “Oh, I am,” smile and make a quick exit. When all I want to say is, “Really? Then I must be doing this wrong. I’ll bet you never had a hard day in your life.”

I wonder if they think this little pause and bit of … what, reassurance? Will help me get through what must look like a desperate attempt to hold it all together in that moment. Well, it doesn’t. What it does is make me feel angry, embarrassed, and even guilty, that I’m not in fact cherishing this particular moment. And because of that guilt and embarrassment, completely defeated. Like I’m not doing it right if I’m not enjoying every single moment.

Mommy guilt is a terrible thing. It’s that thing that nags at us about every little thing from that tantrum we gave in to, or the junky snack we gave them, to the moment we snapped and yelled when we should have had complete control. It eats at me day and night and whispers in my head, “you’re doing it wrong, or you’d be enjoying every moment. Is there something wrong with you?”

I know those moms who seem to have it all together. You know the ones – the Martha Stewarts of mommyhood. They pull it off with ease, or at least they appear to, and they have what seems like infinite patience with their kids. They’re always prepared with snacks at play group, and not just Cheerios, but really great snacks. They say everything with a smile and never will admit that parenting is hard. They love every moment. Did they take classes? Where does that patience come from? Why can’t I do that? Are they just faking it? Do they really go home and unload on their kids, then kick the dog? Are they popping uppers to stay so… perky? I wonder.

Sometimes it makes me feel better to think that maybe they lose it occasionally. I’ve never been good at faking anything. If you know me, you know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m totally transparent. A really bad actress. My kids always know where they stand with me, and maybe that’s a good thing, because I don’t have it all together most days.

Most days it’s minute to minute for me. One minute they’re playing nicely together, the next minute they’re not. One minute I’m laughing with them, the next minute I’m praying for patience. One minute I’m the teacher, the next minute I’m getting schooled. Those boys run circles around me almost daily and it’s hard to just keep up. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, or will ever do.

Most days I’m counting the minutes until nap time, until Daddy gets home, until bed time. Then, when kids are finally in bed and the house is finally quiet, my husband and I collapse into the couch, exhausted, and ready for some down time and some quality television. Lately it’s Breaking Bad, real quality TV that makes our lives look so easy in comparison. Good stuff. Then to bed to rest up to do it all over again tomorrow.

There are moments, however, that make the hardness worth it. There are times when I’m working on my computer and they are playing in the other room, together, and laughing. The innocence and joy of those laughs make my heart flutter. Both with joy and with the knowledge that they’re probably up to no good. There are moments when I catch a glimpse of their faces when they are thinking or problem solving and I see that adorable look of concentration. Sometimes I look at them in absolute wonderment that they’re mine, and a part of me, and I could just cry knowing that they will leave me one day. Boys never call their mothers.

The times when I know I’m doing OK are when I’m standing in the grocery line with a cart full of healthy food and I think of all the people in this world who don’t have what I have. I know I’m going to take it home and feed my boys all that healthy stuff so that they grow strong and smart. I know there are so many mothers who can’t do that for their kids. I’m thankful for that.

So, I may not be a Martha Stewart mother, but I’m doing my best and I’m learning every day. I make mistakes, but I think we all do. There’s no manual and no warranty. There’s no really right way or wrong way. So I have to learn to put that mommy guilt aside and say, “I’m enjoying it minute to minute and taking the good with the bad, so I must be doing just fine.”



  1. Amy, you are a great mom. However as I read this just one person popped in my head. Im not a martha mom either but hey….i dont wanna be.
    Great pic of the boys btw. Lol


    • Thanks Heather. Being a Martha Stewart mom is too much work. It’s all I can do to hold it together day to day. LOL Thanks for the feedback.


  2. Great post. I enjoyed reading your blog today.


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