It’s Christmas season and this past weekend I was in line at Target waiting to check out with the bare necessities that I had on my list for a Sunday that I drug my three boys out of the house for. I was barely hanging on by a thread, standing behind the big semi of a cart that a whole family can practically live in, silently cursing of why I do this to myself, teetering on the edge of being on the next episode of Snapped as the Houdini baby was trying to escape while the two big boys were playing a grand rendition of who could punch the other harder.
In front of me was a new mom that had her adorable little girl gingerly sitting in the cart using one of the cart protectors to ward off germs. Oh, how I remember those days. The first kid syndrome where you buy into all the gadgets thinking they will save you or your child’s life somehow, when in fact it’s just you schlepping around more shit you don’t need.
It’s Target. Get a coffee and enjoy the sanity that only one kid brings.
But alas, she turned and smiled at me and got me out of my single kid daydream when one of my heathens got loose and accidentally pushed the cart into her backside. I apologized profusely, got the loose cannon back in his spot and waited for our turn on the conveyor belt to give them a job since idle little boy hands make for a mama’s worst nightmare.
Finally when it’s our turn to pay and the boys get their coveted stickers, the older check out lady, who would be aged at having adult kids if I were to guess, laughed and said, “Boy! Do you have your hands full!”
As a sarcastic, yet rigorously honest person, I never know how to respond to these types of comments. Granted, we live in rural Northern Minnesota, where we are as conservative as they come. Minnesota Nice is a conditioned belief. Yes, we are supremely nice. Yes, we will make a mean hotdish for funerals. Yes, people will stop for a flat tire or to push your car out of snow. But it never fails me to think that I can’t be the only one who is screaming inside my head at the shit that people say.
As we gathered our bags into the cart, pick up the lost mitten and ransack the new bags for one of the three packs of pacifiers to give to the baby since he decided to throw his out along the way, the friendly Target lady laughed and said, “Enjoy every minute! It goes by so fast!”
As I walked to the car, her seemingly sweet comment started to simmer in my head. It wasn’t the first time that someone has said that to me, and it won’t be the last. And yet, I wish for just once, someone would just cut the shit and say what we really mean to say.
No, I don’t want to enjoy every minute.
I want to remember the good times from our weekly family date night and release the resentment towards my husband for being gone six days a week and leaving me alone with these three.
I want to look at family pictures and truly see the love, the chaos, and the full-heart moments at a time where my babies looked like babies; not the hot mess that rolled up 15 minutes late to our scheduled time, swearing at the kids to quit running away, or the sweating that ensued through the 20 minutes of hell to get all three kids to listen and for fucks sake smile normal.
I want to remember the night where I ordered pizza and had a movie night that I fell asleep to because I was so fried from a long day of breaking up fights and utter exhaustion from a teething baby who didn’t nap and was up six times the night before.
I want to remember the day I found out about drop in daycare and could actually go to Target alone and take two hours strolling through the aisles with a regular cart and put in things only I wanted to. No haggling, no negotiation, no spilled pickles on aisle three, no frantic runs to the bathroom.
I want to enjoy the Kindergarten Christmas program where my kid stood on the top riser and sand his little heart out about Jesus instead of the 25 minute meltdown that ensued beforehand because he didn’t want to wear that pair of pants that he picked out specifically for his program because his little brother touched them.
I don’t enjoy every minute. I can’t lie and say I do. Yes, I have my hands full, but I also have my heart full. Full of memories that I want to enjoy and leave the rest of the shit for therapy that my kids will ultimately have to deal with later on in life. But for now, solidarity in motherhood.
Next time you see a mama with rambunctious kids, high-five her. Give her a smile that says, I got you, Sister. Reach out and tell her your horror story of surviving the checkout during the holiday season or how you drug your three week old newborn and two kids Black Friday shopping for the TV that your husband really wanted and how surprisingly, nobody got trampled.
Either way, it’s okay to not enjoy every minute. Parenting is hard. Enjoy the moments that fill your heart. Laugh about the ones that you can’t believe actually happened.
Enjoy the ride, instead.