Lessons from Parenthood: Appreciating Where You Are Isn’t Easy
Sometimes appreciating where you are isn’t easy.
School got out yesterday for my three kiddos. I always find the end of the school year a conflicting time for me emotionally. On one hand, I am so excited. I can’t wait to start doing fun stuff with the kids like staying in pajamas until noon, riding bikes, evening walks, hiking and trips to the beach.
On the other hand, I find myself feeling sad. Not because I’m not looking forward to all my children being home, quite the contrary in fact. At the beginning of the school year, I’m full of excitement because I know new challenges and adventures are ahead. But when the school year ends, all I can think about is that my children are another year closer to leaving home. They’ve accomplished another milestone that has brought them more independence, which is great, yet depressing.
Appreciating Where You Are
I’ve had to learn to appreciate the time and season that we are in right now. As a mom, you can spend a lot of time looking back. You look back at the cute, chubby baby that used to crawl to you as fast as she could. You look into the eyes of your 8, 9, or 10-year-old and still see the wide-eyed toddler they used to be. When they laugh, you hear hints of the baby laugh that has long since faded. The problem with looking back is that you can’t see where you are.
Then there are the times you can’t help but look forward. You think about how much easier life will be once your baby isn’t in diapers anymore. When you’re bathing your four-year-old for the third time in one day and you’re wetter than he is, you look forward to the time he can clean himself. You look forward to the day your children can experience winning a baseball, volleyball, or basketball game. You run into the same problem when you’re looking ahead you miss the important things that are happening now.
When I feel this way, a little melancholy that we’ve made it through another school year, I have to remind myself to live in the present. I can’t dwell on yesterday and I can’t dream about tomorrow. Today, I get to enjoy the freedom of summer. Today, I get to have all my kids home. Today, I get to play referee with four kids who suddenly don’t know what to do with themselves.
Enduring the Bad to Remember the Good
Appreciating where you are can be hard. When I had an 8, 5, and 3-year-old with a 6-month-old baby, I had a hard time appreciating any of it because it was crazy. I was tired, worn out, and I was needed 24 hours a day. I smelled awful, looked like I’d been attacked by wolves, and couldn’t remember what day it was. How do you appreciate that?
Well, a lot of the time you don’t. You try to keep your head above water in the sea of little people in which you are drowning.
I found that I had to try to appreciate the little tiny moments that are few and far between. I also had to remind myself that it wouldn’t last forever.
I remember holding our 4th baby in a rocking chair late one night. I wondered if he would be our last baby and he probably will be. Suddenly, I wanted to remember everything about that moment. The smell of his head, the feel of his squishy body, and the sound of his little baby grunts because I realized that this could be the last one.
As much as it feels like you are never going to stop changing diapers and cleaning spit up, you will.
When you are in the middle of it, it seems like you’re in a dark tunnel that you’ll never exit. Hold on. It gets better.
Write Down the Good Stuff
While you are up to your elbows in dirty dishes and smelly laundry, take the time to write down the good stuff. If you haven’t read my blog before, you should know right now that I love journals. Here are a few posts that I have written about journaling.
Prepare yourself, I am going to encourage a journal yet again. Write down the good stuff. Even when I was discouraged as a mother – when I felt alone, when I felt like no one but my husband knew I existed because I never left the house, when I felt abandoned to a life of serving two-foot tall tyrants, I wrote down the good stuff.
I am so glad that I did.
The awful stuff is easy to remember, but that’s not what I chose to write in my journal. I chose to write about how much I loved each of our kids when they were born. I wrote about how blessed we were to have another little person join our family.
For example, when one of my daughters was between the ages of 18 – 24 months she slept with rocks in her crib. She brought them home from everywhere we went. She cried if I tried to take them away so I let her sleep with them. Once a week I would take all the rocks out of her bed only to start the collection all over again. Weird. Cute. Priceless.
Sometimes you need those reminders when you are feeling down.
Even if the only reason you keep a journal is to write down the funny things your kids say, that journal will be worth its weight in gold. I have a personal blog with a side widget called Notable Quotables. It has all the funny things my kids have said since my oldest was 5. Every time we, the kids and I, read it together we laugh so hard we cry.
What if I hadn’t written those things down? I would only remember how hard it was and that’s all my kids would hear about. Now…they get to hear both.
When It’s Tough to be Mom
Feeling a little down because another school year is over is not that tough to get through. We got a Frosty tonight in celebration and I’m over it. But there are certainly times that getting through the trials of motherhood aren’t that easy. The last thing you want someone to say to you is to appreciate your kids when they’re young because you’ll miss it when it’s over.
Ich. I hate when people say that to me.
I will say this – it’s going to be hard. Even when it’s hard, what are things you don’t want to forget? Is it the way your child brushes their teeth, gives you a hug, or dances to their favorite commercial? It might not help you appreciate where you are at that very moment, but you it can give you perspective. It will help you focus on something positive and when you look back you’ll remember the beautiful parts that can be so easy to miss and will soon be gone.