The Days Are Long, The Years Are Short
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
I often hear, “Enjoy them while they’re little,” “They grow up so fast,” and “Cherish the moments while they’re a baby because it doesn’t last long.” These phrases would flood my mind as preparing for motherhood before my firstborn, and even before Joshua as I realized how fast Jovi had grown up the day he was born. But I often feel differently than what people tell me I should feel. I hear that I should enjoy every moment, that it should be a joy every step of the way, that I should love the moments despite them crying or missing sleep or lacking energy. But in reality, who actually does? I tried really hard with Joshua to “enjoy him while he’s little.” But I couldn’t make myself too often. It kept coming to mind and something never set right with me when I heard these things.
Did it seem unrealistic?
Was I just not a good mom for not cherishing the moments?
Was it bad that I wanted this newborn stage to be over?
The more I thought, the more I questioned that mentality. I was flooded with videos of mothers loving these sweet moments with their babies, while playing inspirational music and sayings that made me want to cry, missing my baby. I saw unending photos of mammas holding their babies in the air with their noses touching and big grins, peaceful moments of a mother with perfect makeup holding her snoozing newborn… I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
While all these are great, and yes, those moments do happen, that’s the thing. They’re just moments. They aren’t the majority of moments. There’s a lot of work. So when I hear this now, while very well-meaning (and please don’t get me wrong, I think remembering that this time is short can be a good reminder in stressful times because it can often feel as if the struggle we are in in the moment will last forever!), it can often make me think selfishly.
I need to enjoy it.
I need to feel calm and loving with my baby (aren’t we all desperate to feel this way?).
I want to feel satisfaction while holding them.
I want to feel good about my time with my baby.
“I want/need to feel…”
I hardly have my baby’s good in mind. I just wanted it to be fun for me. Good for me. Fulfilling. Nice. Easy, even.
The baby stage can often feel centered around these types of things. But that is far from the reality of motherhood, and the purpose of motherhood. I believe, biblically, that we as mothers, have the beautiful design of bearing children, who are “made in our image” as we are “made in the image of God.”* When sin tore our hearts and intentions from God, it is a hard thing to love someone else, to live for others rather than ourselves.
Motherhood is work. It is hard. It is back-breaking, sorrowful, tiring… which is what all makes it good for followers of Jesus living in this sinful, broken world. It refines us. When we make it about us and how we feel (even with good intention), then we make it a different thing.
When we focus on serving the baby no matter how we feel, and not creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves (and the child), then we can be free to be tired, free to be frustrated (not a "I can act out of frustration or anger when I want to" type of free, but the freedom to feel those things and not be guilty that you aren't feeling the "right" way), free to be in the difficult things. We no longer have to strive for that cherished perfect baby-time. When those cherishable moments come, those are such a blessing and gift. But they are not what we live for. We live for Christ, and so we serve because we are served by Him. Our focus is Jesus, eternal, weighty. Our babies need someone to love them relentlessly, to be an example of Jesus to spark their curiosity when they are older and question why we would give up so much for them. Not someone always longing for moments that they cannot give all the time, or at all maybe, or someone want them to meet your expectations of fulfillment. I soon realized that feeling bad because I wasn’t “cherishing the moments because they go by so fast” wasn’t a bad thing, I was just doing a hard thing. Being a mother.