“It won’t always be like this.”
A sentence I’ve said to my husband a handful of times over the past six years since our first child was born. But perhaps not in the context you’re thinking of.
When our firstborn daughter was 5 1/2 months old, we were (pleasantly) surprised to find out I was expecting again. This time, a son. We weren’t trying, but we weren’t not trying. Our daughter had started sleeping 12 hours through the night around 8 weeks of age, with no sleep training or formal effort on our part. We thought, “how hard could it be to do this again?”
And then we found out.
With two kids under 16 months, rest became a rarity. I was also providing daycare for my niece at the time who was 8 weeks older than my firstborn. Three kids under 18 months 5 days a week for about ten hours a day. It was a shock to the system. With countless hours of nannying and babysitting under my belt from my teenage years and early 20’s, I used to have all the confidence in the world.
This time period humbled me as a woman. I missed the independence I had before kids. I missed the time to rest. I wondered how on earth I ever thought I “didn’t have time” for something before this. I came face to face with weaknesses and limitations I never knew I had.
There were days I would text my husband while he was at work, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. Please come home.” Sometimes he could, sometimes he couldn’t. I was unfairly angry with him often. I was unreasonable and I knew it. It killed me to be so “weak”. This is what I had wanted, after all.
He rarely got the chance to enjoy a social life during these days (same for me), and on one occasion, after only an hour at a restaurant with two of his best childhood friends, I begged him to come home. “It’s too hard. I can’t do it.” The desperation I felt constantly needing help to make it through the day outweighed the guilt I felt asking him to make sacrifices.
When he got home, I’ll never forget saying to him, “It won’t always be like this.”
What I was really saying was, “I won’t always be like this.”
I meant it, but there was also doubt and fear in the back of my mind that I was wrong. What if I was always like this? Tired, crabby, unreasonable.
I wasn’t the wife I wanted to be during those baby years.
The kids got a few months older. He had to start traveling to Omaha for work, so every two weeks, we would load up the family and “move” to Omaha. His company had gotten us an apartment there. Then, two weeks later, we would load everything back up and “move” back to Cedar Rapids. This went on for two years. The result of this life change was that I was no longer able to provide daycare for my niece. While I was genuinely sad that I wouldn’t see her every day anymore, it took a bit off my plate from a responsibility standpoint.
As soon as life started to feel easier, I found out I was pregnant again.
I worried my husband’s reaction would be one of stress, fear, maybe even anger. Instead, he smiled and embraced me. He knew this baby was coming regardless of how much time or energy we felt we had to spare.
Men: women will never forget your reaction to the news a little one is on the way. This moment meant the world to me.
Nine months later, our youngest daughter arrived. By baby number three, my husband and I had perfected our “flow”. We were veterans. We were truly a well oiled machine. The transition from two to three honestly didn’t feel much different. And yet, my hormones wavered like a roller coaster. The resentment I hid that he got to “escape to work” every day came out in moments of frustration.
In one particularly heated argument, I accused him of putting his job before his family, when I knew it to be false. His job was what provided for our family. He was a faithful employee and a hard worker. He was an awesome dad. I knew that, but everything in my world felt like too much at times, and it spilled out onto him. After I apologized, I again promised him, “it won’t always be like this.”
And honestly, it won’t. It isn’t. This too shall pass.
Husbands: Be patient with us during these baby years. It gets better.
Each day our kids get a little older and a little more independent. Each year that passes, I find myself with a little more free time and social opportunities. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and it isn’t a train.
If you’re in a season of “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” Let me make you the same promise: “It won’t always be like this.”
Face one day at a time. Some phases will be harder than others. You might want to rip your hair out during the potty training phase (or not!). Moms, you might cry every single day while your hormones ravage your emotional state. You might lose sight of what’s good and speak words you later regret.
But it won’t always be like this.
These days are refining. You WILL feel energized again. Someday soon, all your kids will sleep through the night. You will put them to bed and have time for yourself afterwards. You will go on date nights or out with your friends and not feel the need to rush home.
Soon, your kids will be able to dress themselves, bathe themselves, buckle their own seatbelts, and you’ll bring them to a restaurant without a diaper bag full of snacks and distractions.
Everyone tells us to soak it in. To appreciate these days.
That can be the last thing moms want to hear when we’re sore from breastfeeding, our hair is falling out, and we can’t always nap while the baby naps because there’s a mountain of laundry and dishes waiting.
But, moms and dads: these precious souls need you. They love you unconditionally. You are their light, their joy. They hang on your every word. They forgive freely. They look to you FIRST. These moments are changing you, for the better, forever.
And it won’t always be like this.
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