There seems to be mounting pressure from society to enjoy every moment of motherhood. And as a loss mom, this pressure seems to weigh more heavily on my shoulders. I know what it’s like to live without the children who died within my womb, the children whose lives were so short that we didn’t have the opportunity to share one moment together. So, aren’t I obligated to enjoy every moment with the children who made it out of my womb alive, whose footsteps continue to grace the floors of my home?
I am constantly being reminded of how fleeting my time raising children is.
After all, there are just 18 summers and 940 Saturdays before they turn 18 and officially become adults. It seems like every time I step foot in the grocery store, a woman whose days of parenting fall into the been-there-done-that category, reminds me that it all goes by so fast. “Enjoy every moment,” she will inevitably say to me as we inch our way to the front of the checkout line.
I know that these statements, these reminders are meant to encourage. To remind us of the things that matter in a society where we are so often distracted by the things that don’t. And to help us embrace a “don’t sweat the small stuff” mentality.
But the days are long and hard, even for mothers who are parenting after loss. We love our living children dearly. We ached for them. We prayed in desperation that they would come home with us. And we were stunned when they were placed into our arms crying, alive.
We are grateful for each moment, but it is impossible to enjoy them all.
As mothers who are parenting after loss, we are living our dream. But some days just seem like a nightmare. Because no matter the circumstances surrounding motherhood, it’s never easy. So often the joy of it all is dampened by the endless work, noise, and exhaustion.
And when we find ourselves complaining about the frustrations of motherhood, we feel guilty.
We feel like we should be enjoying the hours of colicky crying, because at least we have a baby who can cry. We feel like we should enjoy the endless loads of laundry that result from vomiting and diaper blowouts, because really, these things result from the blessing of having living children. We feel like we should enjoy the sleepless nights and inability to take a shower because at least there’s a good reason for our fatigue and uncleanliness. And when we remember what an empty washing machine and a full night’s sleep meant, we shudder. Yet, we still long for rest. And a shower.
And as times goes on, we feel like we should be enjoying the constant company in the bathroom. We sit on the toilet, our audience of littles watching, and we hear a voice in the back of our head telling us that someday the house will be empty. And we cringe as we remember what an empty house feels like. Yet, we are still desperate to use the bathroom alone, desperate for just a moment of privacy.
We feel like we are supposed to enjoy listening to our children’s endless demands and the whining that so often meets us at the foot of the bed each morning. We feel like we should enjoy the moments when an angry child lets us know we are hated or when our children’s continued disobedience leads to a fitful rage in time out. Because we know it’s true that to raise children is a blessing. And in these heated moments, we recall the sorrow of a silent house. Yet, we still wish it were easier. Quieter.
We feel like we are supposed to enjoy it all. And yet, we don’t. We are the lucky ones, it’s true. The ones who have children to hold. We are aware that having children is what the fantasies of so many women are made of, but the reality of parenting is that sometimes we are just lucky that the day has finally come to an end.
As mothers who are parenting after loss, we feel guilty for not enjoying every moment.
But we shouldn’t. Because the truth is that not every moment of motherhood offers us something to enjoy.
We must simply do what every mother is called to do. Love our children and do our best to let that love carry us through the moments that are anything but enjoyable.