Everybody who has ever had a child has been told, “It all goes by so fast. Cherish every moment!”

That advice used to drive me up the wall. Now that my children are older, I appreciate the heart behind the advice. But I still don’t like it.

sibling photo

Not every moment in life is cherish-able. I don’t miss diapers, sudden unexplained fevers, or desperately trying to arrange my day to allow that one kid to get her nap or we’re all in for it. Thinking you should be happy and appreciative when you aren’t creates an extra burden that parents just don’t need.

But I also don’t want to spend my life merely enduring every minute and miss the good parts.

I read a blog post a few years ago that gave me the answer I needed. The author pointed out that some moments rise above everyday life.

They’re beautiful, or fun, or deeply meaningful. They transcend the everyday grind, and show us what we’re really living for.

Cherish those moments.

I keep a memory bank of “transcendent moments.”

wedding photo

September 2000, one of the most cherished memories in my "memory bank."

Like the afternoon on our honeymoon as we toured an outdoor museum, and Darren kept dragging me into dark corners to kiss me. A year later, on a blue and gold autumn day, he and I went to a craft fair with three-month-old Bookgirl, and realized that we could still do things even with a baby. I love the fact that we’ve gone back to that craft fair nearly every year, pushing a stroller with our second child, then third, then fourth . . . and finally, no stroller at all.

sibling photo by the fire

A transcendent summary evening around the fire pit.

I remember summer evenings when all six of us gathered around the makeshift fire pit in the back yard to make s’mores. The smell of artificial turf will always make me think of our family trips to the indoor gym to play (a vaguely recognizable form of) kickball. I smile when I think of us sitting around the living room playing character games, defeating imaginary enemies, and working together to get past obstacles.

Churchgoing with children is a hassle. I choose not to remember the snacks and bottles and tired children. Instead, I think about our children’s baptisms, their performances in front of the church, their grasp of Bible stories and concepts, and their earnest (if somewhat haphazard) desire to show others the love and grace that God shows us.

family looking at the phone

Last Christmas, we drove from Virginia to Mississippi to see my family, and ended up with a lot of good memories.

The everyday chore of school gets old, but when I think back on my ten years of homeschooling, I cherish the memory of teaching each child to read. I watched them master math concepts that left me baffled at their age, or drink in information about everything from plants to planets.

So that advice to cherish some moments and let the others go—it liberated me. It gave me permission to dislike the parts of life that are hard or tedious. I suddenly had the heart to thoroughly enjoy the parts that I love.

Forget about savoring every moment. Be selective. Make room for the transcendent moments, and cherish those deeply.