There are tough phases scattered throughout parenthood. Mine came right from the jump. The first trimester of pregnancy for both of my kids was awful.
Morning sickness is a total misnomer, as I was throwing up around the clock and unable to each much besides saltines for a good eight weeks. The only way to get through it was to remind myself that the nausea was temporary; it won’t last forever.
The same logic got me through two natural childbirths. Birthing a baby without drugs can be a beautiful thing, but I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt. I labored for nearly 30 hours with my son, and though it felt like it would never end, I had to tell myself…
“It won’t last forever.”
Then, of course, comes the lack of sleep. I can count on one hand the number of nights I have actually slept through the night since I became a mother more than four years ago. My kids just aren’t the “good sleepers” other people allegedly have (I still think the “baby sleeping 12 hours” thing is a myth). While the exhaustion has gotten better, it is certainly still there. And when I’m yawning during a workout at the gym or falling asleep at the computer, I have a little glimmer of hope that this phase won’t last forever.
When my daughter turned 2, we braced ourselves for what we knew would come. My son certainly put us through the ringer with the screaming and kicking and let’s-ruin-a-trip-to-Target-ing. Maybe my daughter will spare us the frustration. Maybe not. Either way, I will get through it because
I have wine I know it won’t last forever.
The dirty diapers. The up-all-nights. The teething. The little plastic toys that I always step on. The tears over “nothing.” The sheer length of time it takes just to leave the house. Life won’t look like this in just a few years, because these things won’t last forever.
So many things about parenting are difficult because the tough phases make the days seem so long. How many times have I looked at the clock only to be dismayed that my husband won’t be home for another two hours? How many times have I closed my eyes and begged for more patience? How many times during the tough phases have I had to say out loud, “I can do this. This won’t last forever”?
Yet for all the days when all I want is for bedtime to come, there are so many more moments in which I want to freeze the hands of the clock. Like the moment before bed when my almost-asleep son asked, “Mommy, can I kiss you one more time?” He took my face in his little hands, kissed my cheek and put his head back on the pillow. “Please, God, stop time just for a little while,” I thought. “I know this won’t last forever.”
And my daughter is at that perfect age where she is learning to talk and figuring out things on her own. Every day, there is something new: a new word, a new dance, a new food. Watching her climb the ladder on the playground and go down the slide by herself, I can’t help but think that her older brother seemed to fly through an independence-learning phase and become a 4-year-old overnight.
My daughter towers atop the jungle gym, incredibly proud of herself. She smiles and shows off a mouth that doesn’t quite have all its teeth yet. She claps and cheers. I think, “Remember this moment. Store it in your memory, because it won’t last forever.”
The cuddles. The holding hands. The little voices. The chubby thighs. The toothless grins. The needing Mommy. The books before bed. The insane joy of having little kids during the holidays. The snuggling on a couch to watch another Disney movie together. The kissing boo-boos. The first steps. The watching them sleep. The carrying them in my arms.
It won’t last forever.
As much as I struggle with the tough phases, I struggle more with the thought of them growing up. I just wish I could find a way to hang on to this time, because I know that it simply can’t last forever.