Parents know having kids is inexplicably hard and magical at the same time. One minute you feel like you are rocking it and the next you want to just hide in your bed under the covers. These feelings can happen daily, hourly, or by the minute. Motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood is no walk in the park.Raising tiny humans to be good people is hard work. That’s why every time I hear or read “You Only Have 18 Years,” “You Only Have 18 Summers,” and “Cherish Every Moment,” a wave of guilt runs over me. When you put it like that, wow, it seems like the time goes rushing by. I think to myself, Am I making every moment count? However, do today’s mothers and fathers really need an extra dose of guilt? Should the internet and well-meaning friends constantly remind us that we should be doing more? Should we be making parents feel that if they aren’t constructing magical childhoods for their children that they are doing it wrong? If they aren’t enjoying every minute of the day that they are somehow ruining memories? Nope.
While it is true that we only have 18 years with our children, it’s also true that making every 9,460,800 minutes of those 18 years count isn’t always easy or even possible. Parents get burnt out—divorced parents don’t see their kids every day, single parents are doing double duty and many working parents are out of the house for a good portion of the day. We can’t be “on” all the time. It’s just not humanly possible.
When your toddler throws a temper tantrum in a public place or your teenager gives you one too many eye rolls, you don’t have to enjoy it, in fact you probably want to speed those few minutes right up. Parenthood is made up of moments that aren’t exactly fun, enjoyable, picture perfect or memorable, and that’s alright. That, my friends, is real life. That is parenthood.
And guess what? Parenthood doesn’t end after 18 years, it lasts a lifetime. Let’s work on cultivating a relationship with our kids now where they want to spend time with us after age 18, where they want to talk to us on the phone when they are away at college and where they want to see us as much as we want to see them.
Let’s slow our roll with the “You Only Have…” memes and instead come up with a catchy one-liner that tells parents it’s alright to not enjoy every moment. Even better let’s just plan on raising good humans for 18 years and beyond.