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Motherhood in 2018: Here's What I Learned

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As far as life goes, this was a pretty low-key year for us, thank the good Lord. We didn't move or change jobs, deal with major illness or grieve loss. Life is busy enough without any big stuff going on, so I am grateful to 2018 for time to hunker down, deepen our roots and focus on our family.

As far as parenting goes, though, this was a pretty big year for us. We had a new baby. Our oldest started kindergarten. We switched preschools. It was a year of transition for us as parents, and for our daughters as siblings.

Here are a few things I learned, for better or for worse.

Sleep is not necessary for survival. I'm no doctor, but if it were I'd be gone by now. 2018 was a year of so much love, and very, very, very little sleep—the least amount of sleep so far in my parenting career. Between a newborn and a three year old with sleep issues I can probably count the number of nights with more than three consecutive hours on my 10 tired fingers.

Finding patience is like finding a binky in the middle of the night. I have always prided myself on my patience with my kids, but this year schooled me in humility in a big way. I'm not sure if it was the addition of a third person to juggle, the challenges of a rather wild three year old or the lack of sleep, but my patience was virtually nonexistent this year. It makes me really, really sad when I snap at the kids or yell and see their little heads hang in defeat or eyes pop open with fear. I am slowly finding ways to remove stress from my life and rebuild my patience to maintain a peaceful home.

Kids are the most forgiving of all humankind. So many bedtime routines started off great, and ended with, "GET IN YOUR BED AND STAY THERE OR ELSE!" and I would rest my head on my pillow in total defeat and sadness. But guess what? The kids would still crawl in my bed in the middle of the night, or pop in at 5:30 am with a smile and, "Good morning mommy! I want to snuggle." I would think...What? Why? Aren't you mad about last night? Do you remember how I yelled and then you cried yourself to sleep? But they didn't...or at least they didn't care. Every single day is a fresh start to them, as it should be for all of us. Noted!

When the kid gets easier, the schedule gets harder. Brynlee, our 6 year old, was the "easy" child this year. She adapted to Kindergarten without so much as a single tearful night or call from the teacher. She helped with her sisters and self-entertained like a champ. She was hardly ever the source of sleep deprivation or worries this year. However, she was the source of the logistical challenges, and evenings spent on-the-run instead of at home. PSR, gymnastics, girl scouts, playdates, etc.. I am starting to see how each stage of parenthood brings its own set of challenges, not easier or harder than the last, just different.

The simplest moments bring the most joy. Card games with Brynlee while the little ones rested. Muffins at Panera. Movie night in mom and dad's bed. Making hot cocoa. Playing with the neighbor kids. These are the highlights of 2018—the moments that felt like I was giving up turned out to be the most special of all. When I said screw it, everyone get outside for the rest of the day! When I gave up on cooking and let everyone get muffins for dinner out. When we were too tired to move after long days of work and turned on the screen while we all laid in bed. Those are the moments that turned out to be the most special.

2018 will always hold a special place in my heart. While I never imagined my life with three children, now I can't imagine it any other way. Sweet little P changed our family for the better. It was a challenging year in all the ways that parenthood is supposed to be challenging. It was a blessed year in ways we could have never imagined.

Thank you 2018 for health, happiness and important lessons. Next!

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