An Ode to Sleepless Nights, Lonely Days, and Unabashed Love and Devotion
I recently came across a blog encouraging young mothers to keep going, keep mothering, keep forging ahead. The article assured these young moms they would survive these times, that it would get easier, that their kids would turn out okay. I thought this was beautiful. Back when I was a young mom, I read everything I could get my hands on to try and figure out what I was supposed to do with the tiny, hairless people I had been charged with raising.
When you're a young mom, you need encouragement from other young moms who are in the thick of battle right alongside you. I am convinced that a good peer support network is vital to the emotional well-being of a sleep-deprived woman surrounded by tiny little dictators who wet their pants, refuse to eat, and jump out of their cribs (usually all in the same day).
Young moms also need encouragement from older moms who have made it to the other side and are living proof they will too. Older moms have lived through those baby/toddler days, and whether they had crank swings with hard plastic seats or lavish battery operated bassinets, they are a wealth of information. They have learned the tricks of the trade and know that both mom and baby are sturdier than previously imagined. These moms have learned that a few mistakes, a few skinned knees, and a few too many junk-food dinners will not destroy their child's chance at lifelong happiness.
But all the while, even on your worst days, your little ones still look at you like you are infallible. Like you are the embodiment of light and perfection. In fact, when they aren't throwing a tantrum in cookie aisle of Wal-Mart, they are probably patting your cheeks and saying, "You're so pretty, Mommy." And, as the blog I found correctly explained, this unabashed love and devotion can go a long way toward sustaining you throughout those sleepless nights and lonely days.
Then your kids get to grade school, and you get what I like to call a parenting reprieve. Sure, you still worry, but you have had a good night's sleep, so your worry is kept in perspective. And you're not concerned about every fever or sniffle, because you have nursed your child through many ailments by this point, and you know it really takes a lot to get them seriously sick. (Admit it, by now you've probably taken them over to the neighbor kid's house that time he was inflicted with chicken pox just to make sure their varicella vaccine was working.) You have long since exchanged the diaper bag for a cute purse (although it's probably the size of a piece of carry-on luggage), and when you drop them off at school, you just put the car in park and remind them not to slam the door. No more getting out of the car, going around to the other side, and leaning over the older children to unbuckle/untangle the baby's car seat.
But after grade school comes high school, and that's when things get interesting again. Sometimes you are reminded what those sleepless nights were like - not because a baby needs his diaper changed, but because you are worrying about your child spending the night at a new friend's house, or driving home from a late shift at a fast-food restaurant, or attending the first high school dance chauffeured by friends instead of parents. And it's at this stage we moms need encouraging all over again. Maybe more than ever. Because at this stage in the game, your child is no longer looking at you with that same unabashed love and devotion. Sure, he still loves you; but since it's no longer cool, he keeps it under wraps. And your rules are probably dumb and unfair, and you are most likely interrupting his favorite Netflix show, so could you please just shut the door on the way out of his room and call him when dinner's ready?
Now hang on here with me, moms. Don't give up hope. Deep in the trenches of the high school years, it can be incredibly easy to forget the toddler patting your cheeks and nearly impossible to imagine the adult who will one day become your closest friend. Maybe all you can see is the bedroom that looks like a bomb went off, the family car sporting several new dents in the fender, or the sighs and eye rolls every time missing homework assignments are mentioned.
LET ME ASSURE YOU.
This is just another stage, and it will most assuredly pass. Not only will you survive, but you will wind up with an incredibly amazing person that you helped develop who loves you more than anything and will always be there for you.
Even if he can't always come home for Christmas.