We all know that parenting is hard. Tremendously, intensely (insert your own adverb here) hard. Every stage comes with it’s own set of unique challenges from teaching them not to bite, to disciplining bad behavior, to helping them apply for college and paying for their parking tickets…
But I just have to say, having babies is the worst. In fact, it pretty much sucks.
I have said many times that where I’m at now is the sweet spot of parenting. My kids are six and eight and I adore being their mother for so many reasons.
They are 23 months apart and as some of you may know, having a toddler and a baby at the same time is so hard. Heck, having a toddler and a baby is hard period.
Being this far out from that time frame, what stands out most in my mind are the great moments. How amazing it felt to hold your sleeping baby and caress their face. The feeling you get inside when they do that big belly laugh. How they said the word Elmo wrong for so many months.
But sometimes I’m reminded of the other stuff. The stuff that we breeze over on Instagram and joke about when we post funny meme’s about never sleeping. Admittedly I see a sweet snuggly baby in my feed sometimes and think, would I want to do it again?
And I remember what is often lurking behind those adorable photos: a mother who is so sleep deprived it hurts.
It literally HURTS.
I can’t remember how many times I cried. That I all but begged my baby to please, PLEASE let me go to sleep, I can’t live like this.
I remember asking for help once when I had my daughter after she awoke what felt like just minutes after I had finally been to sleep for the night. I said, “If I don’t go to sleep I think I’m going to die.”
The sleep-deprivation feels like it will kill you. That’s no exaggeration.
At six and eight, besides random bad dreams and being sick, we sleep pretty good.
Besides the tiredness, there’s the guilt you feel when you want to do anything other than be with them. Babies need their mamas and don’t usually like to be away from them.
Eight year olds love to go to the movies with Grandma and stay the night with their cousins.
Babies can’t feed themselves, or get a drink or use the bathroom alone. Duh. But six year olds can. I am done wiping butts and it feels so good.
I’m also done buckling children into three-point-harnesses and helping them get in and out of the car.
I don’t have to keep them from sticking things in the electrical outlets. Or putting small objects in their mouth. Or putting the remote in the toilet. Or flat out just walking out the front door sometimes.
But you know what I do get to do?
Play. I get to legitimately play a game with them that we both find fun. Not just peekaboo.
We get to laugh together because we find some of the same things funny.
We watch movies together, real movies. Even documentaries sometimes.
We went to a Taylor Swift concert together.
I get to watch them be kind to each other. To bring me a glass of water when I have a cough. To pick out a gift they think a friend will like. To clean up a mess they made. To write a special note to dad.
I’m sleeping. I’m well rested. I’m not being bitten and peed on and pooped on and used as a punching bag. I finally get to parent and teach lessons and explain my opinions and hear there’s, too.
And that is why we have the babies.
To any mama who feels like mothering a little one is so damn hard, know it gets better. So much better.
Pretty soon they will turn from babies into kids and let me tell you, KIDS are so much fun.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.