The Stage You’re in is the Hardest

Motherhood never ceases to amaze me. I keep waiting for something to “click” and for life to settle down. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I always feel like I am waiting for something. I console myself by saying “it will get easier when *insert thing I think will make my life a breeze here*”. But is this a realistic expectation? Methinks not so much.

When I was pregnant I couldn’t wait to not be pregnant and thought a baby would be easier. When she was born I constantly read articles about when she would finally start sleeping through the night. When she did sleep through the night, I couldn’t wait for her to walk so that we could do more together. But I’ve realized that every single stage of motherhood is hard, and whichever one you’re in feels the hardest because you are living it every single day. Sleepless nights turn to toddler tantrums and, I assume, toddler tantrums turn to something equally as hard to handle. Having kids is hard.

It is also SO worth it. You don’t read a lot on the internet on how great someone’s life is going. Generally, you find articles sympathizing with whatever struggle you’re enduring in some funny and self deprecating blog post. It makes a better story when we rant (which I do a lot of), but it also skews the topic of children to make it seem like it’s a never ending list of horrors. I’m not knocking those stories. I actually think they provide a great source of comfort to mothers so that they know they are not alone. But we need the other side as well. We need to hear the joy and beauty that children bring. Not in a fake way that makes it seem like it’s always a breeze, but in an honest way, because the truth is kids are great. Yes, they are a ton of work, but aren’t all of life’s greatest joys a lot of work?

Marriage is a ton of work, fulfilling jobs are a ton of work, even the deepest friendships I have are a lot of work. In fact, I cannot think of anything worth having that is not hard at times.

So, for the sake of being more grateful during this Easter season, I thought it would be a good exercise to go through the stages of motherhood I’ve ticked off so far and take stock of what I love about this gig (and maybe a few things I don’t).

Pregnancy: Okay this one really is the hardest for me, but I am determined to be more grateful and therefore plowing along. Pregnancy is a time that all eyes are on the expecting mama. As a pseudo only child (there is a 9 year age gap between me and my brother) this felt like a dream. People are always asking about you, and how you’re doing, and offering help when needed. I got ALL the attention, and loved every minute of it.

*One caveat* I did NOT like when people treated me like an invalid or a child so please don’t do this if anyone you know is pregnant. An example of this would be removing my wine glass at the dinner table without asking–I can decide for myself if I want a glass of wine. (See, I REALLY like the ranting)

Newborn: The cuddles! This new baby just wants to be held and cuddled, and there is nothing sweeter. They also sleep a whole bunch, even if it is broken up in a way that makes functioning like a normal person hard for parents during the day. I still had the luxury in this stage to do things for myself (you know, like showering). Going out is a breeze because all I have to do is hold the kiddo in one hand, and a full wine glass in the other. They never talk back, and can’t run away from me in a store while I’m reaching for something. They are the epitome of innocence. A bonus: everyone wants to get their chance to cuddle the baby so I was inundated with offers for babysitting or free meals. Yes please!

Toddler: Sure, she gets demanding, but it is so much fun watching her little personality develop, and I get to see who she is more and more. Toddlers are also (usually) sleeping through the night and have a relatively predictable naptime and bedtime which means I get some alone time when I really need a break. She loves to do whatever mom is doing, including cleaning or folding laundry. I take full advantage. Granted, these tasks take ten times as long, but it’s adorable and I love that she just loves to be with me. I know it won’t last. It’s a trip when we go to the park and she runs around like mad, or on walks when she thinks rocks are fascinating. She’s already becoming who God made her to be, and it is beautiful to watch and humbling to be a part of.

Since my daughter is only 19 months, this is where my list ends, but I plan to continue to find the joys in each stage, and be honest about the struggles. Will I oneday think to myself that the days no longer seem stressful taking care of another human? I doubt it. Motherhood is hard, and every single stage has different joys and trials. But remembering both of each has helped me to enjoy the fun, and attempt a “this too shall pass” attitude during the tougher times. Each stage is hard, and it’s ok to say or think so. But I don’t want to forget to enjoy the good too, because even that shall pass.