I have three young children and I am a stay at home mom. This stage of life is hard. Really hard. The days AND nights are long. I function on little to no sleep. Everyone is always hungry, we always need groceries, there is always laundry, dance class, gymnastics, homework, the list never ends. Days run into each other and just become one blur of exhaustion. It is a VERY difficult season.
If you are a mom, I can pretty much guarantee you have experienced what I’m talking about. And if you’ve ever mentioned this experience to anyone whose children are now grown, you know exactly what response you will be getting.
“Oh honey, you’re going to miss this one day.”
While I know the intention behind these comments is not malicious, it makes me want to throw a tantrum that would put my 4-year-old drama queen to shame. Let me just say, when I am in line at the grocery store with all three children melting down over who gets which half-eaten bag of Cheetos that I haven’t even paid for yet, smiling at me and telling me how much I will miss this is NOT the right thing to say. It makes me feel as though I’m not appreciative of my children and I’m wrong for being frustrated. Nope, not helpful and not what I need to hear when I myself am on the verge of sobbing into the shoulder of the Target cashier.
With those dreaded “you will miss this” comments, comes a week’s worth of shame, when I can practically hear a chorus of guilt-ridden quotes blaring in my head “the days are long but the years are short, one day your house will be clean but empty, it goes so fast, don’t blink.”
Guess what? I know.
I know these are cherished times. I know how lucky I am to have three healthy children that I am able to care for. I truly do, and I am grateful beyond words. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s okay that it’s not easy. Yes, I am SO incredibly blessed. Yes, I will always cherish this special time. Yes, I love every moment of being a mother. AND it is one of the most difficult seasons of my life so far. That doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, I think it makes me a pretty good one. I’m not quitting, I’m giving it my all. It’s hard and I’m going to keep going and be thankful to do so.
My grandmother got it so right.
She passed away almost two years ago but during her final days, we talked a lot about kids, parenting, and just life in general. She knew my current stage of life well as she raised four children herself. She knew the hardships and the treasures of being surrounded with babies, laundry, a messy house and being needed nonstop by someone else. One day I asked her how she managed to raise four kids, and she wittily responded, “I’m still working on it.” A few days before that when she was joyously visiting with my kids, she turned to me and said “I know you are home with them and I know it is so hard. I remember those days. It’s so very hard and exhausting. But I promise you always cherish this time.” THAT is what I needed to hear. She acknowledged me. She knew it wasn’t all cupcakes and rainbows. She knew the sacrifices of motherhood. And she knew I was humbled and grateful for all of it, even the tough times.
I am only six years into motherhood. I have a long way to go and I’m sure there are other difficult times to come. But admitting that this is hard does NOT mean that I don’t want to do it. It does not mean that I am wishing their childhood away. I LOVE being a mother and all that comes with it.
And while I’m sure I will miss this season one day, it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it now.