Dear parents of young children,
I want you to know I see you. I’m currently living that tantrum filled, sleep deprived, poop all the live long day life and I see you. I know you. I am you.
When your kid falls on the floor screaming in Target because well we don’t know why, I see you.
When your baby is sick and only feels comfort laying on your body all the day and night, I see you.
When your kid turns into Satan because you cut his sandwich in squares instead of triangles, I see you.
When your baby is cluster feeding, I see you.
When your toddler throws your keys in the garbage without you knowing, I see you.
When you are up all the night cleaning vomit, I see you.
When you are potty training for the 300th day, I see you.
When your baby is teething, I see you.
When it’s 10pm and your kid still won’t go the eff to sleep, I see you.
When your toddler takes 12 hours to put their shoes on all by themselves, I see you.
When your baby throws pureed carrots all over your rug, I see you.
When bath time ends up being more like a trip to the splash pad, I see you.
When your toddler decides to be Pablo Picaso on your living room wall, I see you.
I think you get my drift. This stage often makes you want to scream or cry or wish you were a bear that could hibernate all winter long. It’s hard. It’s also awesome of course. There are just as many days when you think your heart might explode from all the joy and love that consumes you. But the hard days sometimes seem to consume us even more. They make it harder to enjoy the good. It’s hard to be present and sing all the nursery rhymes when you are sleep deprived. It’s hard to stay patient and intuitive when you feel like you’re going insane in the mom brain. It’s hard to give grace when you give all of yourself, all of the time.
This is a daily struggle for me. Changing my perspective. Shifting my frustrations into gratitude. Feeding my mind with positive thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in talking about all the shiz that sucks. It does no one any good to only share rainbows and glitter. We need to acknowledge the mess of life and the struggles we might be facing. It’s crucial to our mental health, but I think the real problem lies in the balance. Man I hate that word. We are always trying to find that stupid balance. But it’s true. We can’t ignore the hard, but we also can’t forget to hold on tight to all that goodness. Just like the hard can sometimes make it more difficult to enjoy the good, the good simply allows us to survive the struggles.
So how the hell do we achieve this nonsense? I don’t really have the answer. I think it might be different for everyone. We all find ways to see the light, but I want to share one really simple way to forget about how hard all the negative sleep and bodily fluids suck. It’s called a reality check and boy did I get an unexpected one the other day.
A sweet friend recently sent me an email she wrote to some of her fellow mamas. This mama is not parenting young children. Not anymore. She’s lived that stage and is right in the trenches of a new stage with it’s own set of joys and struggles.
Her stage of mothering seems light years away from mine, but after reading her words (and crying the ugliest of ugly tears) I realized our kids growing up is in fact right around the corner. You see, they tell us this all the time, us parents of young children. They tell us not to blink. They tell us to savor each moment. They tell us the days are long, but the years are short. And we believe them, we do, but we also sometimes want to throw poo in their face cause seriously most days it feels like all we do is wipe butts, but trust me, take a few minutes and read her words. Read them slow and hold them deep in your soul. You will want them tomorrow when your kid wakes up at 4am.
An email from my friend, a mama of two boys aged 14 & 17:
Today was a very weird day for me. My son skipped his last day of high school today. This might not seem like a big deal but it was to me. This is his first absence from high school. I was in no way consulted about this decision. When I asked him about it he said that he finished everything he had to do, so he left. What am I to do? He has passed every test. He has taken every class. He has completed all of his requirements to graduate with honors. I realized that there will be a lot more decisions that will be made not only without my input but without my knowledge. I will not know if he doesn’t brush his teeth, if his clothes are not washed, or if he is not sleeping.
I was still thinking about these things when I went to the grocery store for Parmesan Cheese. Just in case you were wondering, I do find myself running random errands at the grocery store when I haven’t seen much of my son and I know he is working. He might not speak to me but the glance, head nod, and potential smile are worth it. As I saw my son explain to a woman that you have to hit the credit card button before you swipe your card, I realized I will not be able to do this in the fall.
This thought filled me with dread. Of course we want them to grow up. We want them to find their own way. But this is big. This is even bigger than when I realized no one would be escorting him to the bathroom in kindergarten. Quite frankly all of your kids will be making decisions without you too. We are all going to experience this. Maybe some of you feel it like I do maybe you don’t but it will happen. The next big decision might be skipping school, might be changing a major, or could be getting married. But the thing is they don’t need our permission. No matter what I promise no one from the school will call you if they leave class early. Your quick peeks in the grocery store might be parent’s weekend, or Thanksgiving Break, or just a quick Facetime in between classes, but my point is come September if you see me wandering the aisles of the grocery store looking lost with my Parmesan cheese and a tear in my eye, it’s okay to tell me you feel it too.