With the new year upon us, and a new baby in our family, it seems that the universe is out to remind me of one particular commandment of parenthood. And by “remind me,” I mean, “bash me over the head with it through repeated interactions with strangers.” The commandment, possibly the most sacred of all the many, many, commandments of parenthood, is that I am supposed to be savoring every second of every day with my very small children that are going to grow up very quickly.
It feels like I cannot take a trip to the grocery store, or the park, or walk from one side of the room to the other, without someone making a bee line for our family and reminding me to “savor it.” Savor it. Relish it. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Treasure it. At first, I did not even think I disagreed with the sentiment! Honestly, I am a total savorer. I find myself staring at my children all the time, thinking about how quickly the time is passing and wanting to suck the marrow out of every, single moment.
But one day, after someone threw a casual “savor it” in my direction, a strange, uncomfortable sort of thought popped into my head: The only life you should be savoring is your own.
I had to let this marinate for some time before I was even willing to examine it. I am constantly filled with a sweeping admiration for my children. I find them endlessly fascinating at every stage of their lives. I take one thousand pictures and videos of them a day because the thought that I might forget something makes me so sad. But the thought was persistent and, eventually, I had to acknowledge it.
Children are not here for our consumption.
They are on their own journey and this is just the beginning of it. If you spend 18 years of your own life dedicated to savoring the moments you have with your children, you may feel abandoned when they grow up and leave, as they are meant to. If you see them as ever-evolving people who you are privileged to share life with, you will be better equipped to move from one phase of your relationship to another.
Not long ago, I found myself examining my husband’s face as he was involved in some mundane task and unaware of me. He is 12 years older now than he was the day I met him. He has grown in ways I never would have anticipated and has remained stubbornly unchanged in ways that perhaps I had hoped he would grow in by now. In that moment, I was struck by how familiar he is anyway, in spite of all these changes, and how much I enjoy his company. I have never once reminded myself to savor a day with my husband at any particular stage of his life. I am not afraid to focus on myself, to spend time with friends, or to pursue my hobbies because of what it might cause me to miss in my relationship with my husband. I hold my relationship with my spouse, friends, parents and sibling in the palm of my open hand, unafraid of the inevitable changes that I know will occur as we all grow older, move away, begin and end relationships, go on adventures and live our lives. I don’t spend my time wishing I had known them before I did, or taken more photographs of their faces before they changed. Instead, I am content with the memories we share and the time we had together. I owe it to myself and to my children to treat our relationship with the same respect; to see it as a journey that will never for one single minute remain the same, but that will always be rich and full of life and love if I allow it.