When I gave birth to my first child, I was in complete and total shock. I knew I would be tired, I knew the demands would be intense, but I was totally unprepared as to how overwhelmed I would feel for years afterward. I didn’t think my days and nights could possibly get any more difficult … until I had my second child, and I nearly lost my mind!
My children are not quite two years apart and when you have two babies at home with zero family support in the area, the days and nights are quite long. For years I felt like I was a character in the movie, ‘Groundhog Day’, where the characters kept waking up every day to the same day… day after day, with no escape.
I would complain, I would cry, I would find strength again. My friends and family who were willing to listen to me would always tell me, “It will get easier.” At the time, I wanted to believe them, but I just couldn’t see to the other side. I thought this was something that you tell new mothers to make them feel like they can get through one more sleepless night and one more ‘perceived’ physically impossible day.
And then slowly, little by little, it did start to get easier.
I remember monumental days that we would shed another complex ritual. With each shedding, my husband and I would feel like we were one step closer to having the family we fantasized about when we took the plunge to become parents. I remember the glorious day I gave away my breast pump, tossed my breast pads and wore a regular bra again without the fear of leaking. The day we recycled all the bottles, and the day we gained the 6 feet of our house back from giving away the excersaucer, bouncy seat and swing was right up there too. The day I passed the baby aisle in the grocery store and didn’t buy diapers, and the first road trip we took minus the pack-n-play, stroller, high chair and a 60 pound diaper bag for all the “just in cases” were equally as liberating. With the shed of each of these responsibilities came more freedom and enjoyment for us as individuals, and as a family.
We now travel light, all in underpants that reliably stay dry. The kids get in and out of their booster seats sometimes by themselves, I pee and shower alone almost always, and I get a good night sleep several times a week. We still can’t go out to eat without incident, I still don’t trust my younger one around my dog and yes … I still wipe butts several times a day. But little by little, we are getting there! In fact, I am enjoying my children so much these days that I just want to freeze time. I am appreciating all aspects of motherhood-the good, the bad and the ugly. I am also for the first time not just ‘getting through the day’ to make it to the next more manageable stage. I am appreciating the right now, just as they are.
I know many women greatly enjoy their child’s infancy and toddlerhood. I have many friends who grieved the many examples I celebrated. For those women, may you find new joys in your child’s new stages. But, for those who feel confined, stressed and overwhelmed as I once did, I now stand on the other side and definitively say, “It does get easier, I promise.”
Heather is a life coach for moms, a middle school counselor and a mama who is committed to rocking her mojo! She has two extremely “spirited,” independent and strong-willed children who test her, teach her and exhaust her…several times a day! You can read more about her at My Mama Mojo.