I'm just going to state the obvious, but here's the thing, we love our children. We love them with an undeniable, my-heart-could-burst-out-of-my-chest type of unconditional love. We love the baby giggles, toddler artwork, and hugs and kisses no matter the age. But at the same time, it's hard. It's hard to be “on” all the time. Hard to be in a nonstop good mood when your day has been filled with spit up, dirty diapers, spilled cereal, sibling squabbles, and lost shoes.
There are days that seem to last forever, with one hectic moment after the other. Questions race through your mind as the day goes on. Am I a bad mom? Why is this so hard? Will it ever be bedtime?
Will it ever be bedtime? Some days it seems like that beautiful hour will never arrive.
In an effort to remind myself, and any other mom who might need this reaffirmation, here are a few truths to keep in mind on those days when bedtime when seems so far away.
You are their everything
It's hard to be everything to everyone, I know this. But in our children's’ eyes, we are just that: their everything. Especially at the baby stage, they're not manipulating us and trying to give us a hard time. They're having a hard time themselves. There’s not a lot they can do on their own. So we rise to the challenge and even though we’re drained and spent and any other synonym that means tired down to the bone, we continue to be their everything.
We are the doctors-the cleaners of vomit and kissers of boo boos.
We are the teachers-the singers of the alphabet and readers of bedtime stories.
We are the chefs-the makers of pancakes and slicers of sandwiches.
We are the counselors-the givers of hugs and soothers who calm.
We are the mamas, and we are their everything.
As much as it is a challenge, it is also our reward. And it won’t be this way forever. They will not always need us in this way. And sure, we can look forward to those days in some ways, but also take comfort in the here and now, in the fact that we are so deeply needed by someone who loves us so much.
The days are long but the years are short
When I was pregnant for the first time and when my first son was a newborn, so many people told me “Enjoy every moment. Time flies by.” Yes, I'm sure it does, I thought, but I didn't really take it in. Then I became a parent. And you know what? Although the pros far outweigh the cons, I’d be a gigantic liar if I said I enjoyed every single moment. I haven’t enjoyed the long stretches of sleep deprivation, the blow out dirty diapers, or the tantrums in public. And that’s okay. There is a lot of pressure on moms to “enjoy every moment” and we get caught in a trap of thinking that if we dislike any moment, we must be a bad mom. But no, even a saint would snap at the trials of motherhood. But while the day to day presents many challenges, the years truly do fly by, and I often have to remind myself of that fact. All of a sudden, my first newborn baby is in first grade. My second newborn baby is ready for preschool and is asking me to practice addition facts from the backseat of the van, and my third newborn, who I swear was JUST born a few weeks ago, tells elaborate stories and wipes her own butt now (amen to that, let me tell you). I think to myself, When did all of this happen? And HOW, when many days seemed so long and never ending?
My guess it that it took place in the moments when I was looking the other way, pulling my hair out, going crazy and wondering when parenting would start to get easier. I look back now, baffled that time has gone by with such alarming speeds. And I remind myself not to wish the time away too quickly, because the years truly do fly by all on their own.
Let them know
When you're feeling a little worse for the wear, let them know that you still love them, even when you're upset. Even when you're tired. Even when you're not acting very lovable yourself. Tell them every day. That you love them. That they are smart, kind, and helpful. That grown ups make mistakes too and that you're sorry you flew off the handle. Sorry is a heavy word and sometimes very difficult to say, but it's incredibly powerful for a child to hear that grown ups make mistakes too. They don't have to live their entire lives feeling the pressure to be perfect because they understand that we all fall short and need to seek forgiveness. So, if that's what you feel like you need to say, then let them know.
Mamas, this gig is hard. The hardest there is. And sometimes, bedtime does seem so very far away. But remember:
- Let them know you still love them.
- The days are long but the years are short.
- You are their everything.
And most importantly:
You are a good mom, and you are not alone. We all have those never ending days where we have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the stories have been read, teeth have been brushed, and that hour has finally arrived. As much as we love our babies, there’s nothing wrong with loving bedtime too.