You’re gonna miss this. That’s what they say, and what Trace Adkins so beautifully sings about, and the exact lyrics that I sing out loud at home any time I think about the absurdity of missing whatever chaotic thing is happening at the moment. And then I burst into tears.
Tears of exhaustion from sleep deprivation, not knowing what the heck I’m doing and usually not even knowing how to pretend like I do, and frustration. Tears of deep love for my kids and my life. And just the smallest amount of guilt that I might not be mom enough because I do not think that I will miss any of this, and I think that real moms do.
Of course, we are in the thick of it now. A super sassy almost-3-year-old and an impossible-to-figure-out 7-week old. And I keep thinking that maybe this newborn thing will get a little easier and it never does. I keep telling myself over and over that this is a phase. And someday I will look back on it. Probably with relief.
I put it out there to my Facebook friends who are past this time in their lives. Most said almost the exact same thing, coupled with some great advice – I’ll miss some parts and not others!
Lynne – “I miss the cuddles and sweetness of toddlers. I do not miss diapers, bottles and not sleeping! Each stage is wonderful and awful at the same time. I have enjoyed the stages my boys have gone through and going through now (for the most part!) I think of it more as savor the special moments. Don’t get too busy that you can’t enjoy your children. It’s hard when they’re so little. They demand so much more. Savor those special moments. And try not to let the nitty-grittiness of life get in the way.
Kelli – “There are things I miss and things I don’t–true of every stage. Despite being so demanding and exhausting, enjoy the moments. It really goes fast and contrary to what I thought it did not get easier! The older they get the bigger the issues, more impactful are the choices, hard to let them learn on their own when you have the experience. Keep praying and communicating…and remember you are not alone! Other parents face the same things, even if it doesn’t appear that they do! Talking with a mom who has kids a few years older than yours is a great benefit!”
Elizabeth – “This very particular stage you are in….helpless newborn baby, needy toddler, sleepless nights…NOPE, don’t miss that. A few months out and the years after…yes I will miss those dearly. Pull my hair out craziness most days, but the toddler to preschool stage is the best in my opinion.”
One said, YES you will miss this!
Sherree – “Yes, you will miss it terribly. This stage of life is where you still have control and the worries are far smaller than what comes later. It is replaced by attitudes, pimples, a driver’s license and dating.”
And her sentiments were echoed by our Radio Theology listeners when I asked for calls on the topic. They all agreed that time goes too fast and I will miss this baby/toddler stage. (You can listen to that below. Spoiler Alert: at one point in this segment I may or may not get sassy with one of the listeners. Oops!)
Then there was some talk and agreement that even if I will miss it, that’s the worst possible thing you can say to someone who feels like she is drowning, or maybe on good days doggy paddling in the endless ocean of toddler tears and baby poop. (Wow, there’s an image for ya.)
After processing and digesting all of this, the point, I’ve decided, is not whether I like or dislike this stage, or whether or not I will miss this stage. But that I lean into my own life. Actively participate. In the good and the bad. One of my favorite quotes from Ann Voskamp is this very idea. “Joy and pain. They are put two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.” So when it is tempting to disengage and retreat from my own circumstances, I’ll always try to remember to do the hard work of leaning back in.
I might miss Josie jumping up and down, excited to see me after a day at daycare, but I’ll block out the meltdowns over leaving her at the top of the stairs even though she is fully capable of walking down them herself, not letting her sleep with a toy nut and bolt, or telling her yes for something she asked for and then somehow heard no or decided in a split second that having the very thing she wanted would ruin her life forever.
I will look fondly back at when she took her first steps, but will erase from my memory the months of her spitting up all over the entire world (and somehow always on me and usually down my shirt, her spit up pooling in my bra).
I will try to look back at both Josie and Cal’s newborn phase with joy and gratitude, remembering that they were healthy babies, and will disregard how crazy I felt after the hours of sleep I missed feeding or comforting them in the middle of the night.
I realize in reading back through this that it sounds like I’m absolutely miserable, and that’s just not the case. We really are doing fine, and much better than the last time I posted. It’s the moments where I am miserable that all of these emotions come into play. But I feel like it is so important to say out loud to myself and anyone else who’s in the thick of it, that it is ok to feel however you feel in the moment. But keep leaning in.