It happened again last night; this time it was a drive-by. I was standing outside a restaurant holding Ander, waiting for Chris and the girls' when a woman who was quickly walking by stopped. She smiled, complimented Ander's eyes, and then started walking away. Over my shoulder I heard her say, "Mine's graduating college today. Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."
Damn it! Again?! This happens to me atleast three times a week, and up until now it has triggered me like crazy. Finally last night, I sat down and decided to get curious about why it makes me so mad.
Is it because it's incredibly condescending? I definitely don't like being told what to do and can get a bit of a "Bitch, you don't know me!" attitude when triggered. What do you mean? You assume I'm not enjoying it?!! I am loving every damn second of this motherhood gig I will let you know! (Also, here's how I feel about unsolicited advice. Spoiler alert: it's shitty.)
Sure that's part of it, but that wasn't "it". Keep digging.....
Is it because "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast" is a fear-based, ominous warning, like when the Ghost of Christmas Future comes and scares the shit out of Bill Murray? It goes so fast? Damn! I better hurry up and love every minute of it or I'm scrooged. (see what I did there?)
Again, that's definitely a part of it but not quite there. Hmmm......
Is it because "enjoy it" leaves no room for the hard moments? I must be a bad mom if I don't love having a constantly messy house, or being ignored, or cleaning up vomit at 3am, or hearing "momma" 67 times in an hour, or watching yet another impromptu dance routine, or playing dolls and being told I'm doing it wrong. I have strong opinions about allowing feelings, and "enjoy it" doesn't allow space for the anger, sadness, and grief that will come.
And finally it came to me.
"It goes so fast" is what happened to all the "I'm so busy" moms.
"Enjoy it" is a reflection of our "be happy all the time" culture.
There it is. My anger is a response to consensus reality being thrown at me. It's my Soul crying out, "Can't you see me? Really look. I'm not participating in that story of what life has to look like."
Last night when it happened, I was holding Ander up on my shoulder so he could look around, gently rocking him from side to side. I was whispering in his ear, softly explaining to him why dusk is my favorite time of day. The way the sun hits the trees, the greens get even greener and you can almost hear how alive they are.
If that woman had really looked at me, if she could see, she would know. But instead she was stuck in this unconscious, projective, habitual response to moms with young kids.
"Enjoy it, it goes by so fast" is the annoying little sister, following me around re-stating the rules of a game I'm not playing.
Didn't you hear me? I'm out this round.
So now, at a minimum, I'll take the comment in and thank my Anger for doing what it does best - calling me to set boundaries and to say "no". I'll take a moment to silently thank my Soul for reminding me where I'm taking a stand.
At best, I may respond with something like this:
"No, I won't enjoy every moment. Some moments will suck and I'll feel angry or sad, and that's okay.
And no, it doesn't go by so fast. It goes by at the same rate of time as standing in the line-up to renew your passport. Time is linear, it's our experience of time that is subjective.
But, I can promise you this; I will be in it. I will feel it. I will live it. I promise you I won't be sitting at Ander's university graduation, wondering what the hell happened or where the time went, because I can feel that's what you actually want for me when you say, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast".
Thank you, I love you too."