“Prepare to never sleep again!”
“Wait until he’s mobile, then your life is OVER!”
“If you think the terrible twos are bad, wait until three!”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been offered one of these lines over the years, often accompanied by an elbow jab and an obviously forced laugh. I’ve even caught myself spouting them off from time to time, wishing I could suck the words back in as soon as they left my lips.
I’m the first to admit that raising kids is hard. And straight up, motherhood is a bajillion times harder than I ever could have expected. Like, 105689764 harder. Pretty sure that adds up to about 1.5 bajillion. Might want to check my math though – I was always more of an English girl.
Anyway, raising humans is hard as crap. HARD. AS. CRAP.
There’s no denying it. You can paint it roses. You can write all the flowery blog posts you want about savoring their littleness. You can post your humble brag photos with #blessed and #presentoverperfect. But c’mon, sister, let’s call it like it is; this is the hardest job on the planet.
Is there anything out there that could rival motherhood? Any single job that is more physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually demanding? That requires 24/7 attention? That takes every single ounce of patience, love, wisdom, stamina and strength you can muster, and begs for even more that you don’t have? That so fully consumes you in the best and worst ways? That can bring you to your knees with such calculated precision?
So, yeah. There’s some truth to those quips. And I honestly think they’re said with good intent. I think it’s our way of trying to commiserate with women who are in the trenches with us. An attempt to break down the “everything’s fine!” barriers that stand between us and have a conversation about real-life stuff.
Because it’s hard, isn’t it? To be real. To drop the “fine” and be honest about what it’s really like. It’s unnatural to be so vulnerable.
What if they think I’m a bad mom? What if they can’t relate? What if it really is just me?
We’re so afraid to offend or be judged, that we end up alienating ourselves from the very people best suited to rally around us.
But here’s the thing: I’m tired of hearing all the things I should dread about the next season.
Because guess what? Every single stage of raising these kids has been hard in its own way. But it’s also been a joy. And I’m tired of being made to feel (maybe even from myself) like I just have to survive the next season until I can break through to some magical time when everything eases up.
When they sleep through the night. When the tantrums stop. When we don’t need car seats. When they’re more self-sufficient…
Oh, so when they’re not kids anymore?
I’m sorry, but I’m done just biding my time during these years while I wait for something “easier”.
Because it’s not easy. And I don’t think it gets all that easy – just different.
So why do we trudge through it like motherhood is some kind of punishment we have to endure?
I’m with you in the hard, sister. And there are plenty of days I find myself wishing they’d move a little bit faster than they do. And if I’m being brutally honest, some of those days can look a lot like punishment.
Because motherhood can feel like February sometimes. You know? Just cold and gray and dreary. And you’ve been stuck inside for months, and you’ve forgotten what sunshine looks like and everyone is sick and it’s so long and so hard, and you just know that Spring is right around the corner. Spring has to be right around the corner, right?
Some seasons of motherhood feel like that. Looking around corners. Waiting for what’s next. Wishing away the season you’re in for the perceived ease of the next. Missing the beauty that’s right in front of you because there’s snow on the ground.
But what about all those Februarys?
I can’t accept that they’re only meant to endure. I won’t believe that they have nothing good to offer. (I mean, without Februarys, there’d be no Valentine’s Day. No Groundhog Day, for crying out loud. And who would wish away a holiday like that?)
So, sure. We can sit inside every time winter comes and we can wish away the days hoping for warmer weather.
Or, we can choose to see the beauty in every season. We can decide to notice and appreciate the unique advantages of every stage of life, not just the new struggles that inherently come along with them.
Yes, the newborn phase brought sleepless nights (and sleepless days, to be honest), and an exhaustion that, I’m convinced, nothing will ever match. But it also brought the genesis of a family, and an innocence, and a bond that nothing will ever match, either. It irrevocably changed the course of my entire existence, and made life before that season look somehow…dim.
And yes, the toddler phase is best summed up as total and complete insanity. It’s been wrought with challenges, and discipline, and temper tantrums. And potty training…enough said. But it’s also the season where I got to know my kids, and caught glimpses into the adults they’ll one day become. It’s a season of unbridled love and unmatched imagination, and while it’s made me wonder how on earth I’ll survive some days, it’s also made me wonder how I’ll ever give these days up.
And I know I have years and seasons left to face, and there will be a lot more obstacles that will come my way – many of which will make me long for the relative simplicity of a temper tantrum in the grocery store. And I know there will be plenty more times I find myself praying for time to pass quicker, and to have more patience, and days where I feel absolutely desperate to skip forward to something not so dang hard.
But, in those moments, I hope I’ll also see how fortunate I am to be in this moment. In this season. I hope I’ll choose gratitude and joy and positivity when it’s easier to reach for resentment and “why me”.
Because your outlook doesn’t change how quickly a season passes. But it does determine the kind of memories you’ll have to look back on when it’s gone.
And they’re going. As sure as the night follows the day. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on a lifetime of years spent wishing for something better.
So, the next time someone tosses me another “just wait until…”, I think I’ll just smile and say, “Can’t wait.”