From the things I wish someone would have told me file: it’s ok if you don’t love being the mother of infants and toddlers above all else.
Let me explain. Yesterday the kids had the day off school and when I woke up I decided I had the day off too. There would be no packing. There would be no work. There would be no blog posts. Save for a few quick emails, I spent the entire day lazing around the house with my kids.
We popped popcorn and watched a movie. We laughed around the breakfast table full of chocolate chip pancakes. I watched some mean Wii tournaments and we all read our books together as they literally laid all over me. The entire day was pure delight and I feel so grateful that I get this time with them.
I adore my kids, which goes without saying, but lately, I also really enjoy them. They are smart, considerate, wickedly funny little people and spending time with them is not a chore but a gift.
It wasn’t always that way. I am not a baby person and no matter how many I had, I didn’t enjoy it any more. Don’t misunderstand. I took great care of my babies. I devoted my time to them. There was some PPD but other than that, I even made a show of enjoying my time with the babies and making an effort to remember those days because everyone reminded me they’d go so fast so I should soak them in.
Here’s the thing, I don’t miss those days. All I remember of the early years is major exhaustion, overwhelming worry and dread at facing another day of monotony.
Now, I wake up ready to go in the morning. Now, I pick up my kids from school and I can’t wait to see them. Now, I sleep through the night and there are mostly predictable patterns to the day so that even when things go completely awry, I am ready to be flexible because I am rested and right in my mind.
I don’t miss the dread I used to feel when I woke up before the sun because I knew the day would demand more of me than I thought I had. I don’t miss padding across the freezing cold floor in the middle of the night because someone somewhere is crying and I can’t bear the sound anymore. I don’t miss not knowing what they want, not knowing what to do, just not knowing. I don’t miss feeling constantly out of control, sad and clueless.
Here’s the thing. Those early days, those baby and toddler days ARE full of sweet smiles and warm moments and great joy. But what I mostly remember is being tired and scared and unsure of everything I was doing. I remember worry, deep, deep worry that I was doing it all wrong and to that I would never go back.
What I wish someone had told me was how much I had to look forward to. I suspected it would get better because I knew my track record with other kids. I like kids. I tolerate babies because they grow into kids. I wish someone had told me that was alright. I wish someone had pointed out that I was enough, that I wasn’t some failure of a mother because I never, not ever, felt that rush of warmth and joy that other people feel over babies. I wish I had known, that what I was doing for those babies was enough to keep them happy and healthy and growing into the remarkable people they have become. I have tangible evidence now that I did enough because our kids are proof. I wish someone had pointed it out then, that we were enough.
Because then I may not have worried so much that my lack of enthusiasm was wrecking them. I wouldn’t have worried as much and may have enjoyed it more. Or maybe not but that would have been ok too.
Because these are the days I cherish. These are the days I worked hard for and everyone has turned out more than fine. I will cherish these days. I will try to take it all in and hold it in my heart, because they go so fast and I know someday, I will miss these days.
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