It’s a constant game of lost and found. You lose library books, sippy cups, sweaters and socks. Then you find baby dolls tucked under your covers, get well cards on your nightstand after your nap, your lost keys in a play purse. Every day you lose some and find some.
It is exhaustion and interrupted sleep for as far as I can see. Even after the baby phase there are nightmares, habitual waking, early mornings, sicknesses, etc. When I was a new mom I met some parents of teenagers and they were complaining of picking up their son from a party after midnight. All I could say was, “So you’re still not sleeping through the night?” They laughed, perhaps at my naivety.
It is tearing up when random strangers say you’re a great mom. Like the produce man at Superstore or the grandma at the gym. Motherhood is hard and you don’t get promotions, raises or regular acknowledgement. That’s why a genuine “you’re doing a great job” or “you’re a good mom” feels like a lone cheer on this marathon of mothering.
It’s being amazed at how children grow. It starts with the first coo and smile. Then you can’t believe you need new clothes for him every few months (or weeks!). Your heart bursts the first time she says, “I wove you mama” and then you lose count of how many words she’s mastered. You watch them grow, learn, and excel and it blows you away how far they’ve come.
It’s a change in pace in everything. It takes twice as long to get out the door, road trips require more stops and a walk to the park can take an hour because you must stop to look at worms, ladybugs and collect pine cones. Children make you slow down and when you do, you start to see again.
It’s hanging on and letting go. You hang on to the sweet babyness while letting go as they take those first steps away from you: the first sleepover at Grandma’s, the first time with the babysitter or preschool, the first day of school. You hang on to them in various ways: extra stories before bed, weekend morning snuggles, holding hands, countless pictures, journaling and baby boxes full of memories. You hang on and let go all at the same time.
It’s a constant mess. Whatever standard you had for a decent home, it will be knocked down a notch or 10. You will either devote all your time and energy to keeping a perfect home, or learn some new tricks (like skipping the folding part of laundry, or vacuuming biweekly (or monthly!)).
It’s doing your best and second guessing if it’s enough. You examine the family diet and wonder if it is healthy enough. You ponder about your children’s amount of sleep, vitamin D, exercise, extra curricular activities, etc, etc. You work hard then worry that you should be working harder.
It’s having a plan that is going to be revised. You start with a plan of action and if it doesn’t work, you revise and try again. Parenting seems to be a balancing act of providing some stability and consistency while adapting to the individual child.
It’s the occasional crash landing. But somehow you get back up and keep on, keep on.