Recently, a dear friend met our newest baby for the first time. It was a sweet moment because she has been a mentor to me over the years. She has loved and raised four children and is now enjoying her grandchildren. She has gone back to school for a second degree so she can help to improve the childcare culture. Over the years, she has given me wise advice about womanhood, marriage, Bible study, prayer, food, children, and everything else that comes up in our twenties and thirties.
As she leaned over and admired our newest arrival, she looked up at me and said, “You know there’s only one word: savor.”
I laughed and told her that I had just spotted that advice on a list of “The Top Ten Things NOT to Say to a Mother of Young Children.” She was surprised and asked, “Why don’t mothers want to be told to savor their babies?”
I told her about a trend I’ve noticed: Young moms are pushing back against this specific advice from the older generations. For the past few years, social media has been abuzz as young mothers vent about the older women who say, “Enjoy every minute of it.” They don’t want to hear this from the little old ladies who stop by their carts full of children at the grocery store.
They may smile on the outside, but on the inside they are wondering, How can I “savor every moment” when the baby is wailing in the carseat that is teetering on the front of the grocery cart, the toddler is refusing to sit in the back of the cart, and my brain is overwhelmed with prices, nutritional information, coupons, and menu plans?
Is It Even Possible?
The advice seems so far-fetched, so removed from reality. Obviously she forgets what it’s like to exist in a sleep-deprived state, navigating the care and nurture of self-willed and needy children. Being a mom is exhausting, often-lonely, unaffirmed work.
When these young moms get home from the grocery store, unload the babies and bags, and tuck the little ones in bed, they pop online to ask it out loud, “How in the world am I supposed to ‘savor’ these moments? Does it make me a bad mom if ‘survive’ is a more accurate verb?”
I agree—motherhood is tough, and “savor” is the last word that comes to mind when I’m in the midst of the everyday demands of nurturing children.
Yet that day as I held my baby and looked into my friend’s eyes, I knew I should take her seriously. I just couldn’t ignore or argue against her wise and experienced advice. She said it with all of the conviction in the world. “There’s only one word: savor.”
Are We Willing to Listen?
Instead of grumbling inside, I decided to take her words to heart. I pondered them for a long time. I wondered if maybe all of the young moms are missing something. After all, “savor” is the number one word of advice—often, the only word of advice—that we hear from every older woman who crosses our paths. Most of us want older women to speak into our lives. I wonder, Are we willing to listen to what they are saying?
When older women tell us to “savor” our children . . .
- Maybe we need to stop complaining, ignoring, and pushing back.
- Maybe we need to honor the collective voice of the women who’ve lived through motherhood and all agree on this one thing.
- Maybe they know something that we don’t know yet.
- Maybe they know that we need to hear it everywhere we go—family reunions, the YMCA, church, the grocery store—because hearing it over and over again is the only way to overcome the smell of poopy diapers, the noise of whininess, and the drone of mundane chores.
We insult them when we say they forget what it’s like. Of course they remember the trials. They wear the cost of motherhood on their wrinkled foreheads, their rough hands, their sacrificed dreams, and their bank accounts. And yet, they won’t quit the chant: “Savor it. Savor it. Savor it.”
Maybe this persistent, seemingly impossible message is God’s gift to us.
Maybe it’s the wisdom we’ve been longing to hear.
Do we really want to tell these generous, passionate older women to stop cheering us on?
I’ve discovered that I don’t.
Learning to Enjoy Every Minute
That’s why the next time the little old lady stops me in the grocery store—when we’re all hungry and grumpy . . . and I’m scrambling to get my toddler to the bathroom in time . . . and the baby is wailing . . . and the six-year-old has a blister on her heel . . . and the nine-year-old is wiggling her tooth with such fervor that she is lost in another world—I will try to pause and listen as that wise older woman says, “Enjoy every minute of it. Savor it.”
I’ll try to be humble and say, “Thank you for that wise advice. I’ll do my very best.”
Maybe we could begin by asking God every day to change our hearts so that we may savor this miraculous gift of motherhood. Let’s ask Him to remind us to notice our children, hug them, connect with them, and take every opportunity to lead them to Jesus.
Thank You, God, for my young children. Thank You for the noble work of motherhood. And thank You for older women who all sing the same song: savor it.
I’m going for it. How about you?
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Ps. 127:3–5).