The other day, I was in line at the grocery store just ahead of a young mom with a baby all tucked into a carrier that was locked and loaded into her cart.
The woman behind this young mom asked how old her baby was. The young mom said, “Five weeks.”
I waited for it.
“It goes so fast. Cherish every moment. You blink and then they’re gone.”
But no. A twist, this reply from the older mom, looking at the baby:
“Mine’s 47 and out of my house and on his own. I’m glad I’m past all that.” She did NOT sound as if she was missing “all that.”
These poor young moms today. They can’t win.
Either moms of littles are being told it goes so fast and to cherish every moment, or they’re being told they’ll be glad to be past those moments and to “just wait until…” (most famously, “just wait until they get to be teenagers”—and don’t even get me started on that).
In a rare moment of keeping my mouth shut, I did not turn around and offer my take on the situation. For one thing, the young mom had wisely taken a sudden interest in something on her phone.
For another thing, what do I know? The older mom may have had a very troubling and difficult relationship with her 47-year-old.
But what I was mostly thinking was that motherhood cannot be summed up in any one way.
It is not a neat, tidy package you eventually open and then pass on to other moms. It’s messy and marvelous and simple and complicated and uplifting and frustrating and fast and slow and murky and clear and heartbreaking and healing and wild and wonderful.
There are so very many moments to cherish.
There are moments to be glad to get past.
When you’re IN the thick of motherhood, most of the time, though, you’re just trying to figure it out and do the thing, and you’re not thinking about cherishing the moments or being past them.
You’re just doing the best you can. Some days there’s more to cherish, and some days there’s more to get past.
Maybe what all moms need is just the reassurance they’re not alone on whatever kind of day they’re having and to know they don’t actually have to choose one perspective or the other. They can pile cherishing and getting past right on top of each other.
As for the next time I have the opportunity to say anything to a young mom beyond, “Nice weather we’re having, huh?” I’m thinking only a few things are needed.
“Your baby is precious. He looks so well loved. You’re doing a great job.”