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I don't know exactly when it happened, but at some point in the last couple of years, I transitioned from being an exhausted mama of babies and toddlers to being a rested mother who speaks from memory. I miss having babies! Yet, I remember that it can be discouraging at times, too.
My children are now 3, 5 and 6, and, though obviously still young, the practical part of life already looks very different. All three get themselves dressed in winter gear without any help. Bundling the children up means I say, "Okay guys, we're leaving in a couple of minutes. Please get all your stuff on!" Getting buckled into car seats means I say, "Hop in and buckle up!"
I remember when it wasn't so simple, though . . .
I remember being exhausted in the mornings from waking up with a nursing baby and comforting a scared toddler and changing the wet sheets of a potty-training preschooler. I remember what it felt like to think a full night of sleep would be the most blissful, sublime experience in the world.
At the time, it seemed like that season would last forever. Then, one day, you realize with this ache of nostalgia that you're sleeping through the night, no longer buying diapers, and your children no longer need help buckling themselves into their car seats.
Young mother, if you're tired, if you're discouraged, if the days stretch long and the nights pass with little rest, here are some truths to remember:
Productivity is measured differently in motherhood.
For many women, this simple truth takes time to realize but is incredibly helpful during what can feel like repetitive work day after day, night after night. For many women, productivity prior to motherhood was measured in concrete, objective terms: goals achieved and things accomplished. Suddenly in motherhood, the measure of productivity is completely different because loving, nurturing, and quietly caring for a baby doesn't produce anything visible to check off of a to-do list.
Don't forget that this work of loving, nurturing, and caring for your baby is immeasurably valuable. All the hours spent holding, feeding, and changing your baby are not mundane necessities, but are communicating to this little person entrusted to your care that they are loved, cared for, protected, and safe. When you're comforting that fussy newborn night after night, the work you're doing is immeasurably valuable.
The challenges of motherhood are real, but you're blessed to know them.
Sometimes if I'm frustrated or discouraged about something with one of our children, my husband will gently say to me, "Elisha, let's figure this out, but let's remember how incredibly blessed we are to have this problem." This has been simple but helpful for me in many different moments of motherhood. It doesn't mean that the challenge or the emotion or the fatigue isn't legitimate. But it's helpful to pause, broaden the scope, and remember during the tough times that children are a blessing, a gift, and a sweet joy. Yes, motherhood brings challenges, but in those challenging times, don't forget how grateful you are that you've been blessed with children.
It's true what you've heard, that the days seem long but the years fly by.
I'm not sure where I first heard this description of motherhood, but it rings true. It seems like just yesterday that I was pacing the halls of our small New York apartment with my firstborn baby boy, Jacob, while he cried and I walked back and forth, singing the same song over and over, night after night. At the time, I remember being so very tired and thinking those nights would go on forever. But the days passed into months and into years, and that little baby boy is turning seven years old soon. I look at him now, so big, so confident, and I can barely wrap my mind around how he grew up so fast.
I've heard people say it's cliché and unhelpful to remind young mothers to enjoy the quickly passing time with their babies, but I disagree. I needed to hear it when I had babies and still need to hear it now. Life passes quickly. Our days are numbered. Winter will give way to Spring, and if all we do is wait for the warmth of the next season, we'll miss the beauty of today.
Tired mother, the days and nights with babies sometimes feel long, stretching out in front of you in what looks like ceaseless repetition. But before you know it, your baby grows into a boy who grows into a young man. This is the day the Lord has made. Even when you're tired, rejoice and be glad in it.