It blows my mind to tell people my babies are nine and seven years old. Back when they were infants I would meet people with fourth-graders and think, “I’m glad that’s so far away, I am SO not ready for that!” Of course, I wasn’t ready then. But as time has raced on God has made me prepared. Parenting has taught me that—believe it or not--you’ll be ready when the time comes! Even though I’m in a completely different stage of parenting, I often think about those hard early days. The days when I had multiple babies in diapers and the “body spills” were plentiful. The days when my back and wrists and hips were all strained with the constant lifting of quickly-growing bodies. The days when sleeping well was an unattainable dream, and even my dreams featured little cries of “mommy!” that would wake me up in the night. Those days, momma, are hard.
Why then do older moms so frequently counsel you young mommas to appreciate each moment, to not wish it away, and to watch out or it’ll just fly by? I guess all those nuggets of wisdom are true. It does go fast (even faster when you’re looking back at it!) and taking a moment to appreciate it may indeed be helpful.
I want to give you young mommas in the trenches a slightly different word on this. This season of young children is a precious time, but it is also a difficult, back-breaking, exhausting time. I am sorry that it has to be so hard for you. I remember, and I feel your pain. But the encouragement is this: it is so, so worth it.
Everything you are doing now: all the bottoms cleaned, all the feedings, all the re-reading the same board book; all the lifting into shopping carts and breaking elbows with heavy car seats, all the sobbing and tantrums and sleep-training: it is all worth it. Because every single act of love that you pour into them now is building the foundation for who those little people will become.
You’re in the business of making people. It’s the hardest and most important work of your life.
Yes, I do miss what my kids were like as babies. I miss their fat little rolls and baby giggles and the sweet snuggles. I miss their innocence and even the silliest of the tantrums. But I also love the people my children are becoming. I love that they can brush their own teeth and clean their own rooms (thought usually not without a fight). I love that they are sensitive to the needs of others, full of imagination and creativity and intellect and love. These are things you don’t see in your babies, but you are nurturing all these things even in the youngest children.
And, after all, it is a season. However impossible it seems now, you will look up one day and realize with amazement that you have a fourth-grader. You’ve moved through those trying, early years and you are seeing ever more clearly why you persevered. So keep your chin up, Momma! I’ll see you on the other side. We can get together and tell all the young moms just how fast it goes.