Please, don't try to enjoy every minute.
Enjoy every moment because they grow up too fast, it is number 1 on the Top Ten pieces of advice that parents of little children hear.
It makes me feel guilty, because I normally read it on the phone while I’m “playing with the girls”.
I can see for myself that children grow up fast. Five minutes ago Dragon Ryder was a newborn and now she’s a six year old who can do headstands and runs away when I try to hug her.
But even if I feel guilty, I don’t think that you can or should enjoy every moment when you’re a parent.
It’s funny, people don’t tell you to enjoy every moment with your parents, your friends, your dog, your parakeet, or with your partner because you could divorce any minute. A love relationship such as a marriage is full of glorious moments that will be captured with a camera. But it’s also full of millions of dull days which will be forgotten.
I think the contrast is even bigger with the parent-child relationship.
You have those exhilarating first times that fill you with joy: the first steps, the first time they put their head under the water, the first time you go on the rollercoaster with them. You have birthday parties, pony rides, Christmas mornings, water parks and three-scoop ice creams.
But you also have millions of tedious moments.
Reading the same book, going to the same playground and listening to a 3yo talking non-stop can become draining chores. Putting an unwilling child in a car seat, sharing meals with a picky eater and surviving the epic meltdowns can turn every day into groundhog day.
And those ungrateful menial tasks that multiply as soon as you become a parent: your house becomes a 24h snack bar, the toys breed, the washing machine is on an infinite cycle… and you feel like that mythological character who spent his life pushing that rock up the mountain… only to see it quickly rolling down again as soon as you reach the top.
You don’t really understand the true meaning of boring until you become a parent and some days you feel as if your brain has the same texture as a mashed cauliflower.
But this is parenting. The highs and the lows.
The wonderful, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the tiresome routine.
Of course I try to create as many extraordinary moments as possible with my little ones, those magic memories that give us the impression that we can slow time down. I also make an effort not to get distracted and to appreciate the beauty of the ordinary moments: Reading their favourite books, going to the playgrounds, listening to the gibberish talk.
But children grow up too fast no matter what you do, it’s their job to do so. I’m not sure if it makes any difference how Zen or how hurried a parent you are.
Maybe parents should vent over the hard parts of parenting without being told to enjoy every moment, because some moments are truly not enjoyable.
I also think that we need to have the dull and menial bits (and hate them) to be grateful for the days of three-scoop ice-creams and the days when we manage to sit down to savor the little joys of raising children.
Every moment is part of the picture, but only some of those moments are worth putting in a frame to remember again and again.
Anna is a journalist and a mother of three children under the age of 7, Dragon Ryder, Gecko Princess and Baby Anaconda. She spends most of her week being a stay-out-of-home Mum to tire her three energetic girls while she thinks and writes about the joys and struggles of parenting.