Moms of young children, I’d love to encourage you that life with young children will get easier!
Last week, I found a photo I completely forgot about:
I took the photo five years ago, as I was trying to pack up our entire home so our family could move – my daughter was a year and a half old, my son was three and a half years old.
In retrospect, I am so glad I took that photo.
I can look at it and feel so much. The mess is absolutely ridiculous and it should be laughable, but I can still remember how out of control I felt when I took that photo. I can still feel the desperation and overwhelm I experienced as a mom of two toddlers. I remember the sadness in absolutely hating where we lived at the time – and the hope that the move brought.
As vivid as those feelings still are, five years later, I know that my babies slowly but surely grew up. I know that the days were long, but the years have been short. And as challenging – oh, so brutally challenging – the toddler years were, life has gotten easier.
Sure there are still challenges. As any mom knows, there are all sorts of uniquely wonderful AND challenging things about each of your child’s ages and stages. But they’re in a process of continually changing.
Learning from experience
Experienced moms have a way of passing along parenting wisdom that’s not always received well by younger moms.
Think about moms of newborns. Older moms will say, “Enjoy every moment!” (OK … not every older mom says this, but I’m in a habit of saying it, because I think it.) And any mom of a newborn will think, “How in the WORLD can I enjoy every moment? I’m up half the night! My boobs are sore, I’m exhausted, and this baby won’t stop screaming!”
Yet those all-night-long screamfests will end, your child will sleep through the night (eventually – it just might take several months), and he or she will become so active that you won’t have those precious times of rocking a sleeping baby. All of the sweet newness of a baby will eventually morph into the rambunctious and sweet stickiness of a toddler.
I remember right around the time I took the cleaning photo of my children, my grandma – a mother of seven and grandmother of ten – told me to enjoy every moment of my days with toddlers. She remembered the best days of her life were when her own children were so young.
At the time, I thought there was no possible way for me to enjoy every moment of those days. They were dark days – in my marriage, in our living situation, in my recovery from a traumatic birth, in my frustration with the terrible twos. But her words stuck out to me, both as a challenge and a reminder that there was a certain sweetness to that chapter of my life. It would be best if I didn’t miss it.
And while I’ll readily admit that it did not feel like it was the best time of my life when my children were that young and life – not just my home, but life itself – was messier than it’s ever been, that time passed and the best days quickly followed.
If you’re a mom going through difficult times, I strongly encourage you to talk with someone else. Talk with a friend. Talk with a mentor. Talk with a professional. Talk with new moms and old moms. Just talk. Vent your feelings and frustrations and get some advice and encouragement. During my rough season of motherhood, it helped so much just to talk with other women I could trust – whether they were childless, new moms like me, or old moms like my grandma.
I do understand my grandma’s sentiment; now that life’s more stable and God has brought all sorts of emotional healing, I’m able to see that as a mom, the best days of my life are spent with my children.
I may need to break up bickering (over and over again), and there are days when I feel like I’m repeating myself five-thousand times, but life is good. And life is sweet. My relationship with children is special – and it continues to change as my children mature.
Back to the future
As for my kiddos today? They’re in first and third grade.
If they would make a colossal mess like the photo from five years ago, they would pick it up because they eventually learned how to clean up, when they were old enough. And in the past year, they’ve started helping out every day without complaining. (Whew!)
While I would love to go back in time for a quick moment to cuddle my sweet toddlers when they were so little and cuddly, I appreciate parenting too much right now to linger in the past. Sure there are still challenges. But I’m loving the uniquely wonderful things about my son and daughter right now.
Yet if I did go back in time, I’d want to give myself a big hug, look myself in the eyes and encourage myself to keep enduring and lavishing love on my children.
Remember they’re oh so young and need an extra measure of patience and grace. But all the love and patience and grace is worth it – life with young children will get easier.
Are you a mom of young children? Do you need the reminder that life with young children will get easier?
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All images courtesy of Pexels and Hilary Bernstein.