October 27, 2013

Ripening


“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle.” 
― Fred Rogers

They told me it would get easier.

When Walter was first born, and I had to begin learning how to live with two little ones, they said it would get better. The days would calm down a little. I would find a routine and settle into this new life.

It hasn't happened. 

Yes, some days are good- the kind of days I imagined. The kind when Millie looks at us and says, "You're my best friend. You're my beauty!" and Sky and I giggle to ourselves later and repeat it to each other. The kind when Walter smiles and laughs those beautiful baby belly laughs all day long. But most days lately are the ones that challenge me. The kind when I keep looking at the clock and hoping it's almost bedtime. The kind when we're always late to church. The kind when I'd be tempted to hit a fast forward button if there was one.

It's difficult to write about. Because being a mom is what they told me it would be: so amazing, more life changing than anything, awe-inspiring and full of happy tears and sweet moments. And yet there are seasons- some lasting a few minutes in the day, and some lasting weeks or months, or maybe even years- that are just hard. They take everything in us, more strength, patience, and perseverance than we ever knew we possessed. Parenthood is about growing, but no one told me that I would have to do as much growing, or more, than they will. For every play time of drinking water out of plastic cups and calling it tea, or every time loading buckets of sand onto a toy dump truck and spilling them onto dirty laps, there are plenty of the other moments. Down in the trenches moments. Times when he cries and can't be soothed. Times when she doesn't listen and I'm tired of repeating. Sleepless nights that roll into sleepless weeks and sleepless months, until I forget what sleeping two whole hours together even feels like anymore.

So this is the season we're in. Wake up, get through the day- sometimes with sweetness and grace, sometimes with struggle and enormous effort- go to bed, and then do it all over again. And I've been feeling a little lost in it.

It's easy to be thankful for these two; I love them beyond all words. But no one likes losing sleep, and no one likes trying to reason with a toddler who doesn't prefer reason. I think it's okay that I don't adore those things in the moment. Because, in the moment, it's really hard. I'm trying to remember that they'll be precious days to me later, even if I can't see the forest for the trees just yet. Some things have to ripen before they're good.

Millie might understand this better than me. She begs for a bunch of bananas every time we're at the store. After we bring some home and they sit high on the counter, she asks me every day, "Is the green gone? Can I have one now, Mama?" They don't taste how they should until we wait. It's the wait that brings goodness.

Maybe it's like that. One day, when I watch my grand kids play, I will tell Millie and Walter about it. "I think you fussed that whole first year," I'll laugh to her. "And you," I'll say, looking at him, "I had such high hopes for you to sleep through the night, but the older you grew, the less you slept." They'll nod because they've been through it with their own babies. And I'll choke back the tears, because finally, those times will be so long ago that I would give anything in the world to get them back.

14 kind comments from you:

Kaylee said...

I have tears in my eyes. I can so relate to this post. So much. There are beautiful moments and I adore my kids and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But being a mama has challenged and stretched me more than I ever imagined thought possible. Some moments and hours and days are just plain hard. Thinking of you, and thank you for this!

Jenn said...

Yes!!! AMEN. It is truly hard to savor every. single. moment of this because some moments (days/weeks/months) are *hard* and can really beat us down. I'm counting on looking back on all of this (in the very distant future) and wishing I had fresh poopy butts to wipe, someone to spit their half-chewed carrots into my waiting hands, and breaking up fights over the one (among millions of) Matchbox cars. But for now, it sure is excellent birth control. ;)

Katie Nay said...

This is so sweet. I'm not a momma, but I'm an auntie and I've seen my sister struggle with her baby and getting used to the life that she gets to live now. I myself have even felt the frustrations when little Kallie just won't go down for a nap or she refuses to lay on her belly, but she'll continually roll over onto it and scream until you roll her back over! It can be hard. I really hope it gets easier for you :)

MrsMcDancer said...

I think I've heard something like, it's the hard times that make it worth it. At the very least, the hard times certainly help me appreciate the perfect moments of ease and happiness. You're not alone in feeling the way you do and there is nothing wrong with that :-)

Mrs.B said...

How do you do it!? I swear whenever I've hit a rough patch as a mommy you speak the words that are in my heart.

Chantal said...

So sweet, and so true. This is the season we're in, a motherhood season. It's rough, but it'll go away faster than we know it!

Allison said...

If there was a "like" button, I would press it. I sometimes dread the day before it's even gotten bad. I say prayers that nap time will be lengthy. I look at my daughter and think, "How many times can I tell you to stop throwing things at the dog before it sinks in, because if it doesn't soon I'm going to start throwing things at you!" And then she smiles and I see her new teeth bursting through and she hugs my leg and rubs her eyes and I soften and feel like we're going to make it another few minutes...

Kathryn B said...

Oh parenting is hard. Anyone who tells you differently isn't doing it right. It does get easier, I promise. But I have had MANY of those days where I couldn't wait for bedtime, then was ashamed I didn't enjoy the time I have with my kids. It's a hard battle, but you are doing amazing!

blm said...

yes, erika, just yet (as always). it seems that every time i have hit a bump (or bumps) in the road your blog is there to rescue me. and, most importantly, let me know i'm not alone--especially in the blogosphere where everyone's life is so "perfect." my own mother has assured me the ripening will come, maybe not on my timetable but eventually, yes. here's to hoping you see a bit of that yourself soon.

Brittney Liann said...

Somehow you manage to put into words what so many of us Mamas are feeling. Motherhood is beautiful, a precious gift but that doesn't make it any easier to get through the hard days, or weeks or months. You are definitely right, one day when our children are grown we will look back and miss these moments. You are a great mama Erika, anyone can see how much you love your children. Sending hugs and hoping you have a happy and peaceful day. :)

@Melissa_Dell {on twitter} said...

You know I know all about this. I get so excited hen I finally feel like myself - like I "figured it out" then all of it goes out the window and I'm emotional, stressed out, and not myself again. I mean. They're littles!! How can they have so much power over us and our emotions :/

My husband sometimes asks how many times I got up in a night. I shrug and say "I dunno" because I don't even want to think about it. Sometimes once. Sometimes 4. They sure do keep us on our toes. Good thing they're super cute too :-)

Jamie said...

The days are long but the years are short...

Jennifer said...

I can totally relate to this post. It is good to have reminders that we're not the only ones, so thanks for sharing. I came across your blog because my husband is about to join the military and when looking for information for spouses I noticed "Chambana" in your title. We are from IL and lived in C-U for a couple years until our recent move to Minnesota. Oh, and I'm an INFJ, too. Nice to know there are kindred spirits out there. Hang in there with the kiddos. I've got a 2 year old and one on the way, when one already seems to put me at my limit. But it sounds like you have the right perspective- we're going to miss this one day. But it's still hard and we need encouragement. So thanks for sharing!

Maggie said...

I just found your blog. I'm a National Guard wife, mommy of two and work full time. Things are difficult, and you don't have to cherish every moment with your kids. The key is to live in the amazing moments so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel when it is midnight, you need to sleep yourself and one if not both kids are being impossible. That May or may not have recently happened at my household.

Anyway, I love your blog. I'm just starting mine. Feel free to check it out.

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