As Good As It Gets

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“This is as good as it gets,” a new friend said, running through the sprinkler with his kid over his shoulder. The boy was shrieking, laughing, the summer sun not yet wanting to set.

I stood and watched as Little O followed, grinning, his shorts and tee soaked, his lips faded and shivering, but, like summer, refusing to leave.

We were at a new friend’s home and this was the this, the as-good-as-it-gets moment, summer and sprinklers, bare feet and wet grass, watermelon dripping down chins, not a hint of breeze in the air. On the surface, I saw what he saw in this moment. But I felt somewhat numb to it, going through the motions of the day, wondering how many tantrums it would take to get O to leave, how we would change into the extra clothes we had forgotten to pack, the wet car-ride home, the dinner he would later refuse to eat, the bedtime he might ignore.

I was tired, exhausted really, and this was a moment that, at one time in my life, I might have marveled at in the same way, but, for some reason, I was removed from. I longed to get inside of it. I felt ashamed of not being able to fuss or fight my way in.

I don’t know what I’m mired in. Doubt or shame or guilt or fear or or or. I can’t tell if others aren’t really sharing the truth of their lives  or if my truth is just entirely different. I only know I’m not the person who sees as-good-as-it-gets moments as well as she once did.

They say be present.  But I don’t know that I’m not. Maybe it’s okay to stand outside of a moment every once in a while and acknowledge it’s not exactly the moment you wish it was.

Maybe it’s better to admit that your truth isn’t as good as good gets so you can more easily recognize when it is.

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13 thoughts on “As Good As It Gets

  1. My dear friend, how did you know? I want so much to be in those moments, and sometimes I feel like I almost am. So close. Now I’m trying to remember how to get back there. (And you know you have an amazing way with words, right?)

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  2. Gosh, Melissa. What can I say? You’ve touched on something I also went through when my kids were young. Exhaustion can do this to you. I think I was just so darned stressed from being the responsible one, the parent, the Mother with a capital M, every hour of the day, that I couldn’t relax and enjoy myself and my kids and the moment as much as I wanted to. Of course, that may not be what you’re talking about at all, so if it isn’t, forgive me. And feel free to email me anytime.

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    1. This means so much to me Joanne, thank you. And, yes, this is what I’m talking about. I wish I could relax and enjoy myself more but it’s good to hear from people like you who have been through it and survived it.

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  3. I wonder, too, if part of it is that sometimes we don’t enjoy our kids at certain ages. I thought I didn’t like 18-36 months…but it turns out I didn’t like my *oldest* at that age. I’ve enjoyed my second immensely through that age, though as we near 36 months, I’ve enjoyed him less and less. And a lot of that lack of enjoyment is wrapped up in how difficult they are, though my husband finds our second more difficult than our first, so “difficult” is certainly subjective. And when I admit I didn’t like my oldest for basically a year and a half (and probably longer, since it was closer to 4.5 years old that I started enjoying him again), I feel like a real asshole. I’m enjoying him much more now, and enjoying our outings like I haven’t in a long time. But he’s more agreeable and cooperative, so outings are easier.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this – it makes me feel better to know we’re all in this together and can relate to one another. I know our lives are all going to change and evolve but, yes, some days I’m just not able to enjoy myself and I struggle with that.

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  4. Being a parent is hard work. It takes so much patience. Every stage has different issues, but you will have those “best day ever” moments. I promise. Look for the small things that make you smile and let them fill your heart.

    You always run into someone who has the perfect child, perfect husband and perfect life…usually that’s just the public persona. Don’t let those kind of people put pressure on you. Just be like “Wow, I’m glad they are having such a good day.” Every day is different with kids. Start fresh each day. That was how I managed my classroom. Each day every kid came in brilliant, kind, prepared and respectful of others. I knew it wouldn’t last that way all day for all the kids, but for me a fresh day was a new start for everyone.

    You can do this parenting thing. I know you can. I know you and you’re not afraid of hard work. 🙂

    (hugs)

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  5. You’re allowed to feel like crap, and to wish for something more/different. God knows I did when I had young kids. And, to be honest, I think a lot of people write themselves into the moment, after the fact, on social media so they can portray themselves as something more than they feel.

    It’s so strange, though. I felt like you did in that moment too many times to count. And now that my kids are older, I look back on those days with so much nostalgia and longing. But I know, in a deeper sense, that’s a lie. I know how exhausting it all was. I know how I itched for my freedom and hungered for change.

    I think all we can do is be grateful for the authentic moments of transcendence and connection, and recognize that its ‘ll the other times that provide the contrast. Easier said than done, of course. 🙂

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Sarah. The itch for freedom and the hunger for change – that is EXACTLY how I feel, but also nostalgic even for the ‘early’ days of my son’s life and he’s only two and a half! It’s all so complicated but it helps to know that others have been there and feel or have felt the same way.

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  7. I am numb to a lot of moments. Perhaps that’s why the present – these “as good as it gets” moments feel so magical – because they feel so fleeting and rare. So much of my third child’s babyhood is a blur. She’s four, and I’m seeing her more clearly now. It’s like I’m waking up from a fog with her, and yet, I have to fight to stay awake.

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  8. I know exactly what you mean. I do.

    I loved every moment of raising small kids. And there were lots of times I felt like I was negotiating with a drunk, narcissistic being from outer space. And there were times I didn’t want to play Legos again. And there were times I thought I’d done brilliant parent play only to find out only 5 minutes went by. And most wonderful times, I mourned the passing it while I experienced it. I knew it was fleeting. It’s like when I nursed in the middle of the night. It was so sweet. I knew I couldn’t imprint the scent of their fuzzy heads or the softness of their skin in my brain forever. I tried to savor. But, man, I just wanted to sleep too. It’s hard to be perfectly present because our minds leap too quickly to reflect on our experiences.

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