It’s OK not to “enjoy every moment”

Confession: I don’t enjoy every moment

Hands up, as a new mum, who’s ever been given the advice to “enjoy every moment”?

That’s all of us then.

Well guess what, I haven’t, I don’t and I will continue not to enjoy every moment.

Let me just caveat that. I do love being a mummy. I absolutely LOVE it. I love my baby to infinity and beyond. I love my husband as a daddy, I love our little family. LOVE LOVE LOVE. But it’s also the hardest, scariest, most intense thing I have ever done and I don’t love every single moment of it. And why would I!? Some of it is absolutely, no questions asked, totally and utterly crappy.
Just like the rest of life. Does anybody seriously enjoy every moment of life? Polyanna maybe, but otherwise it’s just not realistic.
It is totally possible to love something as a whole but not love every single teeny tiny bit of it…you know that phrase “I love you but I don’t have to like you?”…it’s like that. Hands up who loves their partner but doesn’t enjoy EVERY single moment with them? Uh huh. I LOVE teaching, but I don’t enjoy every single moment of being a teacher. I LOVE cooking but I don’t enjoy every single moment of preparing a meal. I LOVE exercising, but I don’t enjoy every single moment of a spinning class (speaking from long and distant memory there). You get the picture.

Who in their right mind actually enjoys staying up all night trying to calm down their tiny baby who is screaming and screaming and screaming in pain with reflux? It’s heart breaking. Who enjoys sitting nervously in the doctors waiting room waiting to be called for their baby’s first jabs? It’s not so fun. Who enjoys being repeatedly lacerated by tiny little finger nails, or punched in the face by flailing limbs, or being pinched so hard you wonder if you baby is actually the incredible hulk in disguise? It really hurts! Who enjoys that moment when your partner goes back to work after their parental leave and it hits you that that’s it now, you’re on your own…you’ve had no sleep, you’ve not got dressed for 2 weeks, your bits aren’t working quite as they should and you’ve no idea what’s going on or how to look after this little thing… it is so so lonely and utterly terrifying.
Who? Not me.
And when I’m feeling like crap already, riddled with mum guilt over something or other already, tired beyond all tiredness, at my wits end with my poorly screaming baby, drowning in house work and baby puke, what makes me feel SO much better, is somebody telling me to enjoy it all. NOT. Thanks, now I feel a whole load worse. Now I feel like I must be the only one who isn’t enjoying this bit. What am I doing wrong? Who are all these other mums skipping around enjoying everything?

They don’t exist.

Turns out it’s not me doing anything wrong…it’s the advice that’s wrong. It is SO unhelpful. In fact it’s downright dangerous if carelessly uttered to a new mum suffering with PND. Since we all know how very, very difficult being a brand new mummy is even without post-natal depression why oh why oh why are we still dishing out this advice?

I mean, I know why, it’s because it goes so quickly, you don’t want to blink and miss it and wake up and realise you’re due back at work tomorrow and what happened, where did all the time go?

So maybe we keep the sentiment but choose our words better.

Instead of enjoy every moment, we could just breathe in every moment. Soak up every moment. Live every moment. Observe every moment. Feel every moment. Mindfully navigate every moment. Even relish, treasure and cherish every moment.

Then instead of feeling this insane pressure to enjoy the un-enjoyable, we could allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to feel in every moment…sadness, anger, guilt, rage, frustration, desperation, anxiety…these are all as valid a feeling as enjoyment and trying to cover them up with some fake cheeriness for the sake of pleasing everybody else isn’t going to do anybody any favours, least of all ourselves.

How about we don’t try to make any of this anything other than it is. We feel all the feels and we don’t feel guilty for doing it. It’s therapeutic, it’s healthy and weirdly enough it makes us happier in the long run, better able to enjoy those really enjoyable bits. Happier than trying to bury our less than satisfied feelings does for sure, that just leads to more frustration and upset.

We accept that not every little moment of this crazy new world we’ve landed in is enjoyable and, most importantly, we make peace with that.

And how about we have some compassion for ourselves!? Ok? This stuff is hard. It is allowed to FEEL hard.

And know what else? It won’t last. I don’t mean that in some kind of flim, flam way. I mean it as an absolute truth of how the world works. Nothing lasts, good or bad. Everything passes. Our feelings of frustration, anger, despair…they won’t last. They are fleeting.

If we can learn to focus on that…to allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to feel, to acknowledge whatever is going on in that moment and to know it doesn’t define us, that it too will pass, we can more mindfully navigate the crazy seas of the shitstorm of motherhood in a slightly more balanced way than beating ourselves up going mad trying to enjoy it all.

So next time somebody, no doubt well meaning, tells us to enjoy every moment, let’s just breathe, smile, nod and move on, safe in the knowledge that they’re totally freaking bonkers, it ain’t gonna happen and most importantly, it’s ok.

And if you need help, understanding sleep to ease the confusion, learning how to help sleep to ease the sleeplessness, or learning tools and techniques to help more calmly ride the waves, then you just let me know… These are all things I teach my 1:1 families, my membership group mamas and my Tackle Sleep in 10 workshop ladies…registration for the next round opening soon. Pop your name in the box below if you want to be among the first to hear when and receive a copy of my FREE guide “5 Reasons Your Little One Can’t Sleep and How to Help” just for signing up:)

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