Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Motherhood Reality Check

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“It has really been a busy day hasn't it?” I said to my friend Stephanie. Stephanie lives a couple of houses down from me. She is super wise and I love talking parenting with her because she has the best little tidbits of information. I trust Stephanie with a lot; I met her as soon as I moved to this town and have followed her recommendations for everything from our dentist to our preschool teacher.

On this particular day, we were about to watch our daughters in a dance review. Stephanie had recommended this nice and simple dance company that did modest dances, modest costumes, and at a very modest price.

Stephanie laughed and told me she had been sitting in her seat for the last several hours. Since I had the three year old daughter, I was lucky enough to not be expected to be there until 15 minutes before show time because people don’t expect much from three year olds typically.

I then commented on how that day I had been thinking back to life with a baby and how I was stuck in the house most of the time. “Having a newborn gets monotonous,” I said, “and it takes a lot of your time. But having older children really does take a lot more of your time.”

“I know!” Stephanie replied. Stephanie has three girls ranging from 6 to 12, so of course she knows. She knows better than I do. “People always told me that when my girls were young but I never believed them! Sometimes I long for those simple days again.”

“What! People warned you about older children?!? Nobody warned me!” I told her.

And thus here I am. Here I am to make sure you all know with fair warning what having older children is like.
You all know (or if you are new to the blog, you are about to know) that newborn time is not my favorite time. It is filled with lack of sleep, raging mommy hormones, and a whole lot of monotony. I know, some of you find it to be your favorite stage. That’s okay—we are all different. I also used to think it took up a lot of your time.

Ha! Newborns do not take up a lot of your time! It can feel confining, especially if you are breastfeeding. You have to be home for naps and you have to be with your baby to feed her.

Do you know who takes up a lot of your time?


Children take up a lot of your time. Not just newborns.

I am a total extrovert, but sometimes I really look back fondly on the time I was “stuck” at home. Things were simple. Sometimes simple leads you to boring, and yes, that is true. The monotony of it all can feel boring at times.

But I really want to help you to enjoy it for what it is if that is your stage in life. Appreciate what it is, because it is not that way for long.

I think a lot of times we look at our current situation and think, "When XYZ happens, things will be easier." So, "When my child is (5, 10, whatever), I will have more time to do things!"

The truth is, not only is life busy, but taking care of children, no matter their age, is busy. So don't wish away your present by looking to a future that won't come. Enjoy your present. Everything has its season. Everything has its good points and difficult points. The trick in life is to focus on the good and be grateful for it.

I am busier than I was when Brayden was a baby, no doubt. Sometimes I would like to go back to the long, uneventful days he and I spent together. But I love watching my children learn these cool new skills. I love talking with them and getting to know their unique personalities. I love the adventure and new experiences we have. I love hearing my toddler tell me all of the colors of everything around us and having her shock the librarian with her knowledge. I love playing soccer with the neighborhood kids—me versus everyone else and letting them win (or so I would like to think). I love being able to run errands all morning long if I need to and not worry about naps.

These are some things I love right now. If you are having a rough day and find yourself longing for the past or the future, sit down and think of what you love right now. Find the good things about your state and cling to those. Every stage has its own unique challenges and its own unique benefits you won’t face in other stages.
I do want you to know there is a lot to love about the baby stage. There is a lot to relish in as you are “stuck at home.” Time really does fly, so enjoy every moment. One day, you will miss it all.

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benjismommy said...

This is great! There's a great song by Darius Rutcker called "It Won't Be Like This For Long" which basically talks about all the hard stages your child goes through and how a parent reassures them self by saying "don't worry it won't be like this for long" and then before you know they're all grown up! So the moral of the story is don't miss the past or wish for the future, but soak up every beautiful and horrible moment of the stage your child is currently in...because they won't be that way for long :o)

The Pinnt's said...

THis was such a needed reminder for me, THANK YOU!

aaron&yuka said...

so true and so wise! i have an 18 mo. old and i am not looking forward to when she has to go to school- i will miss her so!

in the last week i've had three grandfather aged men come up to me in the grocery store or farmer's market and say, "enjoy them", or "I have one of those, she's 37" or most touchingly one said wistfully, "I miss you, where did you go?"

thank you for reminding me to enjoy the "boring time" at home!

Maryea said...

Great post, Val! I love this.

Kristin said...

One of best friends who now has 3 girls warned me of this when I first had my DD. She said when she had her first, a lady in a coffee shop with a couple of older kids in tow smiled and said how lucky my friend was to be at the simple and easy baby stage. My friend thought, are you kidding lady? I feed her 8 times a day, up at night, no sleep! My friend said to me, now I'm that lady. Enjoy the baby time!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for sharing that Benjismommy! I hadn't heard that song. I will be adding that to my library for sure!

A little OT, but I still get a bit weirded out listening to "Hootie and the Blowfish" sing country :)

Plowmanators said...

Thank you everyone for your comments!


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