Rising From the Trenches of Early Motherhood

Blog_Early Motherhood

My sister is having her third baby any day now. And it’s another boy! Who would have thought when we were little playing house that we’d become mamas of three boys?

My boys are 12, 9 and 7. Hers are 4, 2 and soon-to-be-born. While I’m definitely out of the baby and toddler stage, she is knee-deep in the trenches.

I can’t help but compare our stages of motherhood.

When she asks about how I handled diaper rashes, sleepless nights, temper tantrums or potty training, I have to dig way back in my memory to remember.

It really wasn’t that long ago that I was trying to figure it all out. Yet it seems like a million years. That must be why we keep having babies…because we don’t remember anything in the early months!

Parenting young children is exhausting. That I DO remember. And when we welcomed our third son, it got even more exhausting.

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Harder to find alone time with the other two, harder to handle them while my husband was gone, harder to find any time for myself…just harder.

When I think back to those early days with our sons, I would equate it to being in a dense fog. At times we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as soon as we saw it, poof, it was gone.

Like when one of our kids was sick. We both worked outside the home and when one child got sick, we’d have to jockey as to who stayed home and who went to work. There was often resentment.

Or when one of them was finally over a sickness, BAM, the other one got sick. Round and round and round it went.

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I didn’t know then that eventually it would get easier, but not in every way.

Just as I had sleepless nights when they were babies, I have sleepless nights now worrying about them. Worrying whether they have good friends, whether I’m ruining them, whether I’m a good enough mom.

I try to give it up to God, but mamas, we were born to worry about our babies…even if they aren’t babies anymore.

Or take discipline. Temper tantrums have turned into sibling rivalry. Trying to raise young men who love each other while also competing with each other every day is tiresome.

Each child responds differently to different discipline. Trying to figure out what consequences each of them will respond to is downright impossible!

Yet in this stage of motherhood I can’t help but think I’m in the sweet spot.

Our kids still like us and want to hang out with us. We recently spent hours playing board games and although there was some fighting going on, it was a lot of fun.

They can help with chores (perhaps not willingly, but nonetheless!). My six-grader is taking family consumer science and learned to make cookies and brownies. I told him mom is ready for him to do the baking.

I know where they are every night. Tucked safely in their warm bed, still wanting us to read books to them and say prayers (okay, our six-grader has decided he’s too old for this routine – this could be a whole separate post!).

They can tell us when they aren’t feeling well rather than us guessing. The number of times we have to visit the doctor has decreased considerably. Except when they break bones. Which happens WAAYY too much in our house!

Shoppers don’t stare at me any longer in Target because my kids don’t throw themselves on the floor when they don’t get their way. Instead, they negotiate. Not sure which is better.

We have actual conversations about the ups and downs of their day. And they hear about the ups and downs of my and their dad’s day. Teaching them that life is exactly that – lots of up, up, ups and down, down, downs.

One caveat. When it comes to bathroom behavior, they still pee all over. Ha!

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It’s not that I didn’t enjoy parenting little ones. Watching them learn to walk, talk and become independent was great, but watching them grow up to become these little men has been even greater.

Something unexpected has happened to me, too. While I don’t have free time, I do have more me time.

I’ve started doing things I used to enjoy before I had kids. Such as reading, exercising and enjoying a warm cup of coffee that stays warm enough to drink!

My husband and I have started to go on dates again because our 12-year old can babysit for a few hours….without us having to break the bank.

I’ll be honest. I’ve felt kinda guilty about taking more time for me. I know, I know, get over it Stacey. But I think as moms, we often have guilt about a lot of things. I’m definitely a work-in-progress.

So what advice would I give to my sister and all the mamas in the fog of parenting little ones?

Hang in there. The phrase ‘long days, short years’ couldn’t be more spot on.

One day you’ll look at your son and notice his baby fat has left his cheeks. A few years later, he won’t want to hold your hand anymore. And a few years after that, he’ll tell you ‘It’s okay, mom, I can put myself to bed now.’

And you’ll think, HOW did this happen?? WHEN did this happen??

You will once again have a life that doesn’t revolve around nap times, though it will never be as it was before kids.

It’ll be richer, fuller. It’ll be harder, crazier.

God chose you to be a mom to your kids. Only you can do it. You’ll doubt yourself, think yourself an unfit mother at times, but no one else can love them as you will. No one else knows them as you do.

It isn’t easy. It’s the hardest job in the world. But it is worth every heartache, every tear, every sleepless night. It is worth more than gold.

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So, my dear sister, I look forward to sharing the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the joys and heartaches of raising three young men.

I can’t wait to share this incredible journey of motherhood.

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