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​The Mothering Advice I Always Hated But That Turned Out to Be True

I have gone on the website to order my son’s high school graduation gown about 20 times now, and I just can’t click on the link. Okay, I clicked on the link once, but I couldn’t enter in his height (6 feet?!) and pay. It was too much. My mind soothes me by reassuring me that his graduation is far, far away in the future, but it’s not. Time and I are not speaking right now.

I’ve always been bothered by well-meaning older parents who have repeatedly told me over the last 18 years to enjoy my kids because “It goes by so fast!” When I was a new mom, that sentence seemed so insensitive to me because it was usually passed on to me in a moment of clear frustration—like when I was juggling a baby at the grocery store, or chasing a runaway toddler down the street. When I was a mom of middle kids, that sentence made me upset and anxious, because it was whispered to me when I was trying to figure out how much freedom and control to negotiate and no one could really give me any clear advice, just a comment that time was, yes, indeed moving fast! And everything counts! Now, as a mom with a few years under her belt, I find myself thinking that sentence. But I try really hard not to say it out loud because now I know it’s not insensitive or maddening—it’s just really sad and true.

When I first became a mom, I didn’t realize big moments like graduations and birthdays would have a hint of sadness to them. I know not everyone feels that way, but it caught me off guard. I also didn’t realize, those 18 years ago, that I would also slowly develop an obsession with finding, washing, pairing together, throwing away, storing, and creating impassioned speeches about taking care of socks. Life’s full of surprises! My big, important mother moments have come while driving in the car, puttering around in the kitchen as the kids come and go, sitting on my bed listening to my kids at the end of the day, and on the floor in their rooms as we read and laugh. The little fleeting, seemingly unimportant moments have changed me and given me the best experiences of my life as time ebbed and flowed. The moments, money, meals, clothes, activities, friends, and yes, socks, come and go and come and go.

I’m trying to find a more encouraging, hopeful sentence to pass on to other moms to try to encapsulate the sentiment of “It goes by so fast!” in a gentler way. I’ve come up with: “You think you’re tired now!” or “Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems,” “There’s always something to be happy and sad about at the same moment.” Or “Paying for diapers is like 20% of paying for car insurance when they’re older, so that’s a new way to think about that expense!” Yeah. That’s the best I could come up with, and they’re all pretty awful. I might think those things, but I really say, “Isn’t being a mom the best?”

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The Mothering Advice I Always Hated But That Turned Out to Be TrueFor more family tips and a healthy dose of parenting humor, check out Lisa Valentine Clark's book, Real Moms: Making it Up As We Go available now at Deseret Book.

As moms, we improvise. We get along. We make things work. And we make a lot of things up as we go along because, let’s face it, no manual is ever going to cover all the bases a real mom needs to touch. But if laughter and perspective and a renewed energy to face the day are what you’re after—if you too are a “real mom”—this is the book for you!