Life as a mama with young children can be so hard! But even when you’re overwhelmed by the trenches of toddlerhood, remember to savor these fleeting years. This season is precious!
The blogging world can often look “glamorous.” So often, we bloggers put our best foot forward–and you don’t see the behind-the-scenes.
The behind-the-scenes at my house last week included: taking my baby to get tested for Hirschsprung’s Disease (a genetic birth defect of the bowels) at the children’s hospital in Charlotte (she doesn’t have it), keeping my girls home from preschool/Mother’s Morning Out on Tuesday because my oldest somehow ingested gluten and had a torn-up stomach (and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a virus), and, being late to pick the girls up on Friday (their make-up day) because I parked in the wrong direction on the road outside the coffee shop where I was working. I walked up to my vehicle just as the police officer was about to place the ticket on the windshield. He took one look at the baby and crumpled up the ticket and helped me place her inside the van–and out of the cold.
Last week saw me tired…and feeling overweight…and often overwhelmed. It saw my husband ask me when in the world I’ll ever get a handle on the laundry–and if there would ever be a day when the dishes didn’t pile up a mile high in the sink.
I actually wrote the post below several weeks ago–and it appeared in my local newspaper as one of my columns. I wanted to share it with you all. Surely, I’m not the only mama in the “Trenches of Toddlerhood” (and “Preschoolerhood” and “Babyhood” to boot) who ever feels stressed out, overwhelmed and so tired that she forgets what it feels like to feel rested.
But in the midst of it all, my prayer is that we won’t want to rush through this season, but that the Lord will help us savor it. Because our little ones will be grown-ups one day. These 3 little babes whose diapers I change and noses I wipe will one day be women. And this season won’t come again.
I encountered a quote from another writer the other day that stopped me in my tracks and stung my heart a little: “You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow, they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Breath and notice. Smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention. Enjoy today, Mama; it will be over before you know it.”
I have no idea who the author–Jen Hatmaker–is, but her words ring so true.
I don’t think it hit me until my firstborn was close to a year old: Babies don’t stay babies forever.
Like now, summer had just ended and fall’s first whispers of crisp, chilly mornings were among us. And I was putting away her tiny summer bubble suits and onesies and unpacking sweaters, coats and sleepers. Holding up an outfit she had only worn once or twice, I thought to myself: “Oh well, there’s always next summer. It will get worn–eventually.”
And then it hit me: No, it wouldn’t. Because unlike me, who finished growing long ago, this little baby was just beginning.
And when the next summer rolled around, of course she couldn’t fit those little dresses.
It was then that I realized this season–this season of my children’s childhoods–would never come again.
Accustomed to measuring time with the yardstick of school year to school year and season to season, I don’t think the brevity of my childhood had ever sunk in until that day.
Because, really, my childhood in the 1980s and 1990s seemed to last forever. But somehow, once I turned 18 and moved away from home to attend college, it seemed suddenly I was 28, and 10 years had passed. Oh, sure, I spent those 10 years getting a degree, living overseas, getting married, holding a couple different jobs, cultivating lots of friendships, birthing my first baby–and listening to God.
But despite all those 10 years packed, it flew by–as if in an instant.
And I turned around, and 28 was nearly 32. And that first sweet redheaded baby girl who made me a mother welcomed one baby sister—and then another.
All the while, she kept on growing. The clothes? Well the clothes did get worn–by her sisters.
Instead of a lengthy childhood like I remember, my little girls are growing up before my eyes.
As my first little one is nearing 4 1/2 and edging up on the start of kindergarten next fall, I pray: “Lord, slow time down. I’m still learning how to grasp hold of this thing called motherhood.”
You see, 4 years in, I still don’t know what I’m doing.
And God whispers: “Be still. Stop striving. Stop stressing. Take it one step at a time.”
I think of the times she’s asked me to stop writing and put together a puzzle. And I’ve told her mommy was busy and she had to wait a few minutes.
When a few minutes were up–she’d moved on to something else.
And I weep to think how quickly this “do a puzzle with me, mommy” season will pass.
Those late-night feedings that too-often make for a grouchy mommy in the morning? Let me relish the times when the house is quiet, the world is still and the only two people in it at that very moment are me and my nursing babe.
So as this fall drives on until winter beckons us, I pray I’ll take my girls on a walk to collect leaves, bake some pumpkin treats together and scribble crayon on scrap paper if they ask this non-artistic mommy to color.
Because this season–this season won’t come again.
Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace
Oh how unbelievably true, and what a wonderful reminder! You have such a sweet heart, friend. Your children are blessed to have you.
Athena @ Life's Abundant Adventures
Thanks for reminding me that this is time to savor, not just “get through” 🙂 During this Christmas season, I’m really enjoying our Advent and Jesse Tree readings. I like to see my children respond and realize the reason we celebrate. 🙂
Loved this post. Thank you – I’m in the midst of babyhood, and this really resonated with me: “Those late-night feedings that too-often make for a grouchy mommy in the morning? Let me relish the times when the house is quiet, the world is still and the only two people in it at that very moment are me and my nursing babe.” Sometimes I’m just so grumpy and irritated when I’m still waking up at night with my first born son, but it’s just too true that while, since i’m planning on having more children, my time nursing at night is still a ways away from being over, my time nursing THIS boy is going to be gone all too soon. I’m going to try to savor those, quiet, dark, still moments with my sleepy sweetie.
“You see, 4 years in, I still don’t know what I’m doing.”
Loved it— I’m an old old Mother— step Mother– grandmother– step grandmother– step great grandmother— & Honey— I still don’t know what I’m doing!!!!! 🙂
Loved your Blog– blessings — enjoy those babies!!!!
Well…. that depressed me! haha
It was good, though. 🙂
I used to attend the Hatmaker’s church in Austin. They are amazing, and she is amazing! I needed this reminder today, thank you.
oh! This is beautiful. I have a three week old girl, and there are nights where an extra hour or two of sleep would be amazing. Or her not needing to cuddle with me on my chest to fall asleep would be nice. But then I remember, this is all just a brief season. One day she will be 4, 10, 16, 18, and it will be so different.
Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)
Beautiful. Sheesh, I’ve been a little bit of a basket case all weekend because of this very concept – just realizing how priceless this season is. Cherishing, valuing, drinking in these moments with my boys. I can’t get enough of it. Thanks.
Amen..I am nodding my head. As I placed my adult children’s ornaments on the tree I wondered how it went by so fast? I am also so glad I cherished the moments and didn’t wish them away for times of more easy. I now miss the business of those days with little ones under my feet.
Bless you this holiday season as you cherish the everyday…that is what life is all about.
I love seeing a glimpse into your life!! Thank you for sharing and being so honest Erin! It gives us all encouragement 🙂
I so needed this today! Thank you for posting 🙂
Emily @ Live Renewed
I teared up as I read this today while nursing my babe. Such good and true words. I feel like I do try really hard to enjoy the moments, take mental pictures, capture time for a fleeting second, but it still slips by all too quickly. And the liklihood that this is our last baby makes it even harder on me. Two things I strive to do as often as I can, which sometimes means many, many times a day, is hug and kiss my kids and tell them that I love them. You can never, never do that too much.
Erin, when I brought home Ella Grace I couldn’t stop crying because I didn’t want her to grow up. She’s one month old today. I can’t believe it. She already looks different. I’m trying so hard to hold on. When she sleeps her longest now, about 4-5 hours, I miss her. Your post is beautiful and so true!
I love your post… Again!
The quote you copied is exactly how I feel and how I choose to live, enjoying my babies no matter what the day brings. My husband once told me he didn’t think I would ever be a real housewife because the laundry and dishes were never done, it burned me to the core, until one day I said I will clean it when they’re grown and out of the house. LOL!
Not that I really meant it, but when I get to it, I get to it, and I am past the point of breaking my heart and head over it, I am hugging and chasing those babies all day long… As long as I can 😉
Erin, I am blinking back tears here. Last night was rough – the baby has a perpetual stuffy nose and now it’s a hacking cough, and, well, sleep was elusive last night. I don’t even know what to say other than that I wish we lived closer and could hang out and share hearts over coffee, but I’m glad that we’ve gotten to know one another in this crazy blog world. You are a kindred spirit, my friend. Thank-you for sharing your heart here.
Just read this wonderful post…Today was a VERY overwhelming day, and I needed a break. (The boys are upstairs wrestling with Dad!) After reading this, I want to run upstairs, hug, and play with my beautiful children. So, job well done, Erin! 🙂 Perspective gained!
This is so true! Thank you for the reminder to keep the right perspective.
Thank you so much for this! I need this reminder so often. I am the mother of 4 (ages 8, 5, 3 and 4 months). So often I find myself caught up in the mess of the house, the laundry that’s piling up, the fights the kids are getting into. I don’t stop enough to read books, put puzzles together, play trains (3 of my 4 are boys!!) or braid hair. And I know one day I’ll look back and wish I had these days back. So thanks again for the beautiful reminder! Merry Christmas!
This was just what I needed to read, and what I need to read again and again as the days pass and I once again lose sight of what is truly important. Thank you.
Jen Hatmaker is fantastic. You would really enjoy her book “Seven.”
Stephanie, I JUST started reading it–as in this weekend! So excited!! Thanks for the suggestion!! 🙂
Thanks for the perspective. It gives me courage for the week to remember that the largest part of my job as a SAHM is to love on my children and the housework etc. is the smaller part. Because I’m good at loving on my children and it’s not as scary as the laundry monster growing in my hallway 🙂
Grace (mother to 3 under 3)
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