I wrote this post a year ago when I had three kids under five. I was very tired then—still am. I never published it because I didn’t want to make anyone feel “guilty” about having a hard time with mothering in the early years. Many mamas write about embracing motherhood only to have others come back with “don’t tell me that.” But I need the motivation, reminders, and inspiration. I need to know that this is temporary and that I have the right to give in to the silliness of this age. Too many mamas are pushed way too hard and end up feeling like their time is better spent doing anything other than playing with their kids. Who I am as a mother is shaped by notions like the ones in this article and sentiments like the ones in the poem “Song for a Fifth Child.” My advice when coming across writings like this? Take what serves you, leave what doesn’t. Know that no matter what speaks to you & whatever is hard for you in this season, you are not alone—you are seen, heard, and loved.
“Can you help me, mom? I don’t want to fall in the lava!”
It’s the biggest problem of the morning: how will she get from the couch to the armchair without falling into the “lava” that is the entire living room floor. I offer to make a boat out of a blanket or throw down pillows to use as boulders. I’ve been asked to save the day and I actually can…and I do. It feels nice to know that I can solve their problems with just my imagination and a blanket. My presence is enough. A hug from mama makes everything better. Right now my kids think all my ideas are good ideas. Mom can fix anything.
We only have so much time with our little kids. Our invitations to pretend tea parties and imaginary adventures are numbered. Our tickets to their make believe lands are limited. We will only be asked so many times to join them in their innocent activities before those places don’t exist anymore or we’re simply no longer invited, whichever comes first. I know it won’t be long before their problems become too big and complex to solve for them. I know broken hearts, betrayals, and bullying are right around the corner.
I say this not to make anyone feel guilty or to add a burden to my own heart. I need the reminder as much as anyone else in our busy culture to slow down and engage with my kids. Connection now fosters our connection later, too. These moments of being silly with my kids are not wasted. They are the building blocks of our life long relationship. They translate into love now and in the future.
When I am an old lady sitting alone in my quiet, clean, empty house. I don’t want to think back on the short, short season of my life when my kids were babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and remember that I turned down more invitations to play and dream than I accepted…funny how a long-term goal is encouraging me to be in the moment now.
I don’t want to be a mom of teens who sit at the dinner table and won’t talk with me. I know those days will happen, I just don’t want it to be every day. So I listen to their jumbled stories now. I relish the talking over each other, the babble of the baby, the toddler, and the four year old who is looking more and more like a full blown big kid every day. The days are slipping by at a rate that my head and heart cannot comprehend.
Please don’t wish this season away, mamas. I know it’s hard. I know it’s tiring. I know sometimes all you want is sleep or for someone to not be touching you. But sleep will come. One day soon they won’t want to hug you in public or hold your hand…or maybe they will. But for now they do—so hug their wriggly little bodies and hold their sticky hands. There is an expiration date on your lap. It’s a hard truth to swallow, but a truth all the same.