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“Enjoy every moment.”

“That’s kind of a lot of pressure.”

My response was out of my mouth before I could stop it. I may have offended her, or hurt her feelings, and I don’t feel great about that. I wasn’t trying to be mean or bitchy, but that nice lady I had just met unfortunately uttered my biggest motherhood advice pet peeve on a day when my speech filters were not fully operational.

She meant it nicely, of course. It’s one of the things people think they are supposed to say to people with babies. When you say it, the other person is supposed to smile and nod and maybe tilt their head to the side in a wistful manner. But there are a few reasons why it sets me off

First of all, as I said to her: I don’t need more pressure to do motherhood the right way. I put enough on myself, and the media takes care of the rest. Pick up an issue of “Parents” magazine and check out any article on Having Maximum Fun With Your Child to see what I mean. Perhaps I’m too much of a literalist, but the flip side of “enjoy every moment” is: If you’re not enjoying every moment, there’s something wrong with you, or your parenting skills, or both.

Secondly: What if you’re just having a bad day, or a string of them, because oh I don’t know… Insomnia, cramps, crushing headache, your sister/cousin/brother/dad/partner is being awful just then, you have no idea how you’re going to put the kid through Kindergarten. Granted, there are times when caring for a kid provides respite from bad days, but my experience is that being a parent on a day you just need a break from being a parent is the opposite of enjoyable. (Which is why I will never again have more than two glasses of wine on date night.)

Thirdly: Come on. Poopy diapers and teething and spitup and sleep deprivation suck, deeply, for a long time, and everyone knows it.

Finally: What if your kid is sick? I don’t mean like with a cold, I mean with cancer or some serious illness you can’t tell they have just by looking. My kid, for the record, is (knock wood) very healthy, but I do sometimes allow myself to think about what it would be like to deeply love a very sick child. There is no possible way parents of sick kids are enjoying every moment. They’re just enjoying the ones they can.

So maybe that’s the better statement: Enjoy as much as you can. It’s not as pretty, but it rings true to me.

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