10/29/2014 03:39 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

Cherishing Every Moment Is Hard

Jill Patir

I was wrestling my toddler away from the science project display at her school the other day when a sweet friend approached me. I am not sure if she could see the frustration in my face; I've gotten pretty good at hiding it, but with a smile, she looked at me and said, "Cherish every moment. I have one about to be in high school and I miss those days. Get all the hugs and kisses you can."

Her words resonated with me, although I've heard it over and over.

Enjoy this time, it goes by so fast.

Don't blink or she'll be all grown up.

Can you believe she is already two? It seems like she was just born!

It's not that I don't whole-heartedly believe those statements, and I am sure before I know it, I'll have a teenager in high school, but the first thought that came to my mind was, cherishing every moment is hard.

It's really effing hard, actually.

It's really effing hard to cherish the all-out/throw herself on the ground/make a scene in public moments.

It's really effing hard to cherish the days when she refuses to nap, no matter how many times I catch her yawning or rubbing her eyes.

It's really effing hard to cherish the moments when the second we sit down at a restaurant, she insists on walking around.

It's really effing hard to cherish the moments when I am already a month behind on thank-you notes, and I walk into the kitchen only to find them strewn about all over the floor.

And it's really effing hard to cherish every moment when I expend every ounce of my being and all of my mental capacity to keep her happy and comfortable day-in and day-out, only to collapse at the end of each day, often too tired to eat or shower.

Without a doubt, being a mother has been the most challenging job I've ever had. I've gone back and forth with work. I've tried to be a stay-at-home mom, only to discover I wasn't cut out for it. I've tried to be a working mom, but struggled tremendously with the guilt I felt, and I've also tried to work from home. Balance is hard when your thoughts are always focused in one place, on one person. One little person who takes up all the space in your heart, all the thoughts in your brain, and all of the energy in your body.

The days are long, but the years are short. I've repeated that to myself over and over. Somewhere along the way it must have sunk in, because the other day, she used a big girl potty for the first time. Did I celebrate? Did I dance around and sing her praises? Nope. I cried. I cried because all of a sudden, I looked at her and didn't see a baby. I looked at her and saw a growing girl who is learning new things and becoming more and more independent every day.

And the next time we attempted to use the potty? She ripped up an entire roll of toilet paper into tiny pieces and proceeded to throw them all over the bathroom floor.

It's really effing hard to cherish every moment, but I wouldn't want to spend my days any other way.