You're tired. You're overwhelmed. You can't remember the last time you shaved your legs. Or ate an entire meal in one sitting. Or slept through the night.
You smell faintly of spit-up; you have cracker crumbs on your shirt and baby poop on your pants. You think slobbery kisses from a 1-year-old and "I wuv you, Mommy" from a 2-year-old are the best compliments in the world. You celebrate first steps, peeing in the potty, and trying new foods the same way you'd celebrate a winning lottery ticket.
You have laundry piled to the ceiling, dirty dishes stacked precariously on the sideboard, and bathrooms in desperate need of a scrub-down. But the 3-year-old wants to play cars and the baby needs to nurse and you'd much rather do those two things than anything on your monstrous list of chores anyway.
You feel isolated at home and awkward at the park, as you watch other moms easily converse. You're lonely and long for friends, yet would love nothing more than to have an entire day to spend all by yourself.
You have moments of pure joy and moments of panic. Moments of desperation and moments of elation.
You're angry. Angry that no one told you it would be like this. Worried that maybe it isn't like this for anyone else.
You are right in the thick of things. The baby and toddler years are the most intense years of parenting. You are always needed, always doing, often exhausted, and often discouraged.
In these moments, these endless days, it can feel as though you will be here forever.
You will never have a minute to breathe or think or pee all alone.
This first season of motherhood is hard. You get thrown into the deep end, and it's sink or swim. As much as you may love it and want that baby to stay a baby forever, you also have moments of wishing for the next season, of hoping that someday, somehow, things will get easier.
Can I offer you a tiny seed of encouragement to plant in your heart today?
The intensity lessens. You are still needed and still doing, but not with the same immediacy. You may still find yourself exhausted and discouraged, but there are moments of refreshment when you can breathe and think and pee all alone!
Seasons change, and the beauty and the heartbreak of it is that once we gain distance from our prior season, we also gain perspective.
Before you know it, you will be in the next season. And it will be wonderful. I know because I'm there.
My babies are still little, but they're not babies anymore. I can go to the bathroom all by myself. I can take my kids on an outing and it's actually fun instead of stressful. I can finally take a breath.
Now that I'm in this season, I can also reflect on the previous season. Parts of it are quite blurry. Parts of it make me sad. Much of it makes me smile.
I didn't love every minute of that season, and you won't, either. Don't stress about that. Motherhood is tough. Just hold on tight and get through the hard moments, because it's the sweet moments you'll want to savor.
And please, when you're in a sweet moment, savor it! It's trite, but it's true: These years fly by.
I miss my babies. I miss them fitting easily into my arms. I miss tiny fingers gripped tightly around mine, and squeezing chunky, squishable thighs during diaper changes. I miss baby giggles and soft-as-silk peach fuzz hair.
But I'm also enjoying my bigger kids. The way their arms wrap all the way around my neck when they give me a hug. How we have deep conversations that make me look at the world in new ways. How I'm beginning to see the adults they'll become.
New seasons are coming. Some will be easier. Some will be harder. Some will make you look back at your first season with longing, and some will make you look back on your first season with pride.
Either way, you'll make it through. Of that, I am certain. A breather is coming, mama, so hold on. It's right around the corner.
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