Hang in there! Challenging times can lead to fond memories as your children get older
Published: August 27, 2021
By: Janeen Lewis
When my daughter Gracie was small, her energy knew no bounds. Now she is 10, independent, and has outgrown Elmo and unrolling reams of toilet paper. Recently, I found an essay I wrote when she was a toddler, and I was beyond tired. I’m sharing it in the form of a letter to her. Whichever challenging stage of motherhood you’re in, hang in there! It will get better but beware, you may miss it when it does.
To Gracie at 20 months:
I’m the former queen of multitasking because today you dethroned me. I barely cleaned up one mess before you made another. After 10 hours of chasing you, I collapsed on the couch. I tell myself that one day you will grow up. Life will get easier.
One day when you’re older, I won’t stumble over pots and pans littering the kitchen floor. You won’t run through the house, throwing squeals of laughter at me, your feet shoved into my missing oven mitts.
One day, you won’t jump on the couch, causing me to leap across the living room before you fall. You won’t smother the cat with your entire body weight while I pry you away from the love of your life. One fine day, I’ll retire as the cat’s bodyguard.
You won’t tap out a tune on the answering machine buttons (a feat I didn’t know was possible until you walked) while I sort laundry or reach for the biggest knife when I open the dishwasher. While I put the dishes away, you won’t try to climb into the dishwasher.
One day, I’ll watch movies that star Chris Hemsworth, NOT Elmo and a gang of fuzzy monster puppets singing about “the potty.” I’ll have a bathtub without toys and a carpet without Play-Doh.
I want you to grow up for more reasons than my own. I want you to live a beautiful life that touches others. That’s one of the many reasons I had you. But what will happen when I get my wish, and you’re older?
One day what will it be like without the sound of your little feet clunking around the house in my shoes? How will I feel when your chubby fingers don’t twirl the ends of my hair while you fall asleep on my shoulder? Who will stand at the door and blow me kisses while I’m at the mailbox?
Every day the challenge of your determined spirit motivates me to grow into the person I want to be. Each stage of childhood brings parenting challenges with it, and every day that I help you grow, I feel contentment I’ve never known. Each step, each word, each nuance – everything that becomes a part of your personality is a celebrated milestone for both of us. Being a mom has brought more fulfillment to my life than any other role.
Finally, I leave my comfy spot on the couch and tiptoe next to your crib. I don’t see the fireball that blows through the house during the day. I see a sleeping angel with a halo of golden-brown curls.
One day when I’m not so tired, when the house is still, and I have endless hours to myself, I won’t think about the messes or my exhaustion. I won’t wish away time.
I’ll remember it all and wish for one more day of chasing after my baby girl.
Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mom of two who never thought one day would come so soon.