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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Love your article full of warmth and honesty. I relate to that worry and the lack if sleep and the monotony with my 3 and 1 year old and I always daydream of all the things I want to do with them when everyone is potty trained, doesn’t put everything in their mouths and can walk or bike longer then a block without whining! I will miss these baby/ toddler days but I am definately looking forward to the fun that us to come!!!!
Danielle-I’m with you. I just felt like a much better mother when I could engage with them more. It’s now a bit like herding cats but I’ll take it any day!
Sarah Hawkins says
Ritzy, I enjoyed this post! It’s given me hope that I’m not ruining L&A. Looking back, I think the newborn stage was EASY compared to now! Even the “terrible” twos seemed easier than threes. Yes, the newborn days were physically exhausting, but parenting twin three year olds is SO mentally draining. Every little thing is a huge ordeal. Someone’s always unhappy about something, whether it’s the clothes they’re wearing, the food they’re eating, the chair they’re sitting in, or the TV show they’re watching. At the end of the day, I just don’t have anything more to give, all I want to do is sleep. A few people have told me that 4 is a lot easier than 3, and I’m hoping they’re right. I feel really guilty venting about this, but reading your post made me feel more confident that it WILL get easier and that the best days are ahead, not behind us!
I will tell you that I have done this three times and THREE IS THE WORST! It does get better. I promise. And you are not crazy for thinking this time is for the birds because in my experience, it is! Good luck mommy!
I should clarify-AGE three is the worst. I love having three kids.;)
This post is absolutely beautiful!! Well said!
I feel exactly the same way. I am glad I took lots of pictures during my kids’ baby and toddler days because they were such a blur to me that even if I did enjoy the colic, teething, reflux, sleepless nights, and potty training I still wouldn’t remember them as clearly as I can now because of the pictures. I adore my kids and always get told by people that I did/do a great job parenting them, but those days were physically and emotionally tough and I don’t miss them at all. I love looking at the pictures of those chubby little faces and remembering the cute times, but I am happier now that they are intelligent and happy people I can read with, play board games with, and just have a non-baby-talk conversation with. Great post!
Exactly! Cute and sweet but physically and emotionally tough. I just wish someone had told me it was ok to feel that way then! Thanks Rachael.
“I don’t miss miss the dread I feel when I woke up before the sun because I knew the day would demand more of me than I thought I had.”. This has been my exact life verse for the past five years. Thank you for saying what’s in my head and at the same time making me feel like it is not in vain. It does get better, I’m sensing that but oh the tired getting there.
It is coming and it is glorious! Still hard and exhausting but in a totally different way. Keep on swimming mama. There are clearer days ahead.
Babies (other people’s) are cute but for me it ends there. I’m too much of a talker. I find it hard to connect without conversation. This, like all of our pieces is dripping with hoinesty. Well stated.
Thank you. And don’t think for a second this gets you off the hook. Like ’em or not, you need babies because people like you must procreate.;)