It DOES Get Easier: A Message to Mothers of (Very) Young Children
by Susie Michelle Cortright
One day, when I had three kids under the age of five, I happened to be sitting on a park bench near a group of very put-together moms.
These moms were chit-chatting as their school age children played nearby. I was nursing my six-month old while my two-year old tried to bounce on my knee. My four-year-old was braiding and twisting my hair to keep herself occupied. I looked up at this group of moms, and I said, "Tell me it gets easier." They shook their heads. "No," they agreed, "It doesn't get any easier. It just gets…different."
I've heard this many times: The notion that parenting doesn't ever get any easier – it just changes. And one thing is true: The questions my kids ask now are harder to answer. The problems my kids have now are harder to solve. But I think that we say parenting doesn’t get easier because we want to emphasize that parenting never becomes less important – and that is most certainly true. Good parenting at age 14 is no less important than good parenting at age 1 or age 4 or age 22. But the fact is: Day-to-day life DOES get easier.
My kids are each out of diapers and sleeping through the night. In fact, all three are now in school full time. Yet, their time in infancy is still so fresh in my mind that I haven't forgotten waking up every two hours to feed the baby, having to work in the middle of the night because I couldn't cram enough in during the day, the sheer physical exhaustion that came with being pregnant while chasing toddlers. And the restlessness that came with the feeling that I was losing touch with the person that I was even amid the bliss of new motherhood.
I don't have teenagers yet, so in a few years, I may have to amend this message, but I feel compelled to whisper this fact to every bleary-eyed mom with a double stroller. It DOES get easier.
At some point, you will begin to sleep – ALL night long. Maybe not every night, but you will come off chronic sleep deprivation. You will feel less moody and less tired and more like the woman you remember being. And that will make everything you do seem infinitely easier.
At some point, your kids will begin to buckle their own seatbelts, tie their own shoes, and brush their own teeth. It will be a treat to take them out to dinner, and vacations will be time for relaxing, not just more work for you. At some point, your kids will ask for what they want using complete sentences, and they will, on some level, understand a rational explanation of why it is or is not in their best interest to want such a thing.
At some point, your clothes will look roughly the same at the end of the day as they did at the beginning. At some point, you will actually go for days -- weeks, even -- without having anything to do with your child's poop.
At some point, you will regain your professional identity, though it's sure to be a new and more mature variety. At some point, you will have time to volunteer for causes that are important to you. At some point, you will be able to read an entire book before its due date at the library. At some point, when you clean your house in the morning, it will be clean all the way until the kids get off the school bus in the afternoon. At some point - and this is really strange - but at some point, you will come into your home and it will be quiet.
And when this happens, you will have some remarkable little people (who are a lot like you) to chat with and to laugh with and to share your life with. You will also – and I can say this with certainty – miss all of those things that are making your life not so very easy right now.
I suppose I feel compelled to say all of this because when we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, it makes it easier to settle into our days and to enjoy them, just the way they are. Because life with kids never gets any better than it does when they are small. It doesn't get any less exciting or any less fulfilling. And it certainly doesn't get any less important. It just gets…different. May you find light in every single age and every single stage.
Copyright Susie Michelle Cortright
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