“You will never be this loved again. So on the days when you are feeling stress out, touched out, and depleted, just remember that you will never be this loved again. One day you will long for their affection. So choose a soft voice, choose gentle hands, choose love.” AK
This is one of my favorite quotes about parenting young children and I remind myself of it when I’m bubbling over with frustration or the sheer exhaustion of being a mom to young children.
When I’m so exhausted from doing everything by myself and I don’t want to make one more meal, (because they won’t eat it anyway) or play one more game, (because I can’t bear to play the same pretend game over and over) I think of how one day they won’t want to play games with me. One day they will have friends their own age who will become their new favorite playmates and playing with mom will lose its appeal.
Likewise, how soon they’ll be off at their friend’s houses or at school eating meals. There will come a day where I will be sitting at my table alone because my children want to rush off to play with a friend or talk online. Or when they are older there will be no one to share meals with because they have their own lives.
When I think of that, it gives me the energy to be their favorite playmate, playing the same game one more time. Too often I have to say no because of work, chores, or other things that come up. It makes me push through the exhaustion to see the smile it puts on their faces and the joy they get when mommy says yes, I will play with you.
I make their meals with love and care for what goes into their bodies. No matter how tired I am, I sit down with them and we have our meals together. Over the food I’ve prepared, I get to see the giggles and funny faces. I get to hear them sing songs and talk about things we will do (or have done) that day. These are cherished times that I need to remind myself to be grateful for.
When I can’t deal with one more meltdown I take some time to myself to calm down. I try as hard as I can to remember how hard it must be for them to always be told what they can and can’t do. I let them know I love them even when they are angry and sad. I tell them how I always love them even when I’m angry or sad. This is an opportunity to show them I love them no matter what and they are safe sharing these emotions with me. Because if I don’t then maybe one day when they’re teenagers, they won’t share their feelings with me and instead may turn to a friend. Right now I am the only one who wipes their tears away and can make them feel better. Remembering this helps during those extreme emotional moments.
When I’m tired of constantly carrying them, babywearing, or holding hands everywhere we go, I stop and think. Soon, very soon, there will be no one to carry. My babies will grow up and they will want to run everywhere by themselves. They will grow too big for me to snuggle in my baby carrier. There will be no more hands to hold because eventually they won’t want to hold my hand anymore.
So I hold their hands every time they reach for mine or when my daughter asks “mommy will you hold my hand?” When my son brings me the carrier because he wants to be near me I do my best to oblige. When they ask to be held I do it, even if its for a short while.
When I am so over diapers and I don’t want to change one more! I rephrase the opportunity in my mind to be grateful that I can lovingly care for them. That I am privileged to teach them about their bodies and protect them by teaching them about their privacy.
When I find myself wishing they slept in their own rooms (because I would love to know what it felt like not to have a foot in my eye, a sleeping child laying on my bladder, or to have all the space on my bed and not just a sliver), I check myself.
I look at these beautiful babies of mine, breathe them in, and feel so grateful that they feel safest sleeping next to me. When they wake up at night calling out for me because they had a bad dream, I’m right there to rub their back and let them know they are safe.
I will never pretend that motherhood is not the most challenging, difficult, exhausting thing I’ve ever done. But it is also the most fulfilling and loving thing I’ve ever done.
When it gets hard and you’re too exhausted or frustrated to go on one more minute, I get it. I’ve been there. At times I’m still there. But think about how fleeting the time really is. You have your babies for 5-6 years before they start school full time. Before they start becoming influenced by people outside of your home. For those beautifully hard few years you are the most important and influential person to them. Spend that time loving them more and feeling frustrated less.
You will never be this loved again.