When Does it Get Easier?
I slumped into my favorite Northwoods chair with a thud and my now cold coffee and glanced at the clock on the mantle: 10:45am.
Where had the morning gone?
Here I was in one of the most astoundingly beautiful, serene places on earth, the sun lighting up the golden tamaracks like a harvest across the river and all I could think of was how amazing it would be to go back to bed. Feeding and dressing my four kids every morning was enough of an undertaking at home, let alone in a new place with new distractions and new places to sit at breakfast and new arguments to be had about who sat in which new place.
When does it get easier?
This was a question I had asked myself countless times before. In the midst of those twilight feedings. While scrubbing blue marker from my freshly-painted living room wall. When feeling the hard floor press against my back as I struggled to get comfortable on the floor of my daughters' room during yet another thunderstorm. As I played referee in yet another argument over who last sat behind me in the van (just when and why did that become a "thing"?).
When I was a new parent and my girls were still babies (less than 6 months old), many of my thoughts began, "I'm sure it will get easier when _____________." Whether it was a coping mechanism to get me through some tough days or I actually believed it to be true, I cannot say for sure. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. But I mean, c'mon, isn't it the truth? It'll definitely be easier when they can walk on their own and I don't have to carry them everywhere. (Translate: They can run incredibly fast in opposite directions, especially when in an incredibly busy parking lot.) Or...it'll certainly be easier when they can feed themselves and I don't have to constantly think about nursing or preparing and packing bottles. (Translate: Food will be everywhere which will result in the need for more frequent baths and much more frequent vacuuming or the acquisition of an incredibly hungry pooch.) Or...it'll feel so much easier when the older ones go to school and my amount of "free-time" increases. (Translate: An exorbitant amount of paperwork, permission slips, book orders, lunch tickets, homework and over-tired attitudes are brought home on a daily basis, requiring enough organization to constitute a full-time job.) Or perhaps my favorite: it'll be so much easier when my children can talk and just tell me what they need or feel. (Translate: Lots of unasked for opinions and unpleasant whines can be heard when decisions are made without first consulting said children.)
In my short six years as a mother (short years, long days), I've learned that the illusion that the journey of parenthood somehow gets less intense as your children grow is a farce. Don't fall for it.
I hate to tell you this, any "new mom" readers out there: it doesn't get easier.
The challenges just change.
As a fellow mom, I never want to sound like the one who's "been there done that" and knows so much better than you. I've heard too many times moms of older children say to those of little kids "Oh, just wait! You wish for them to get older but let me tell you, I'd much rather deal with tantrums and sleepless nights than curfews and teenage mood swings." I've also found myself wanting to tell the brand new mom with her single baby, sleeping soundlessly in her carseat "Don't you dare tell me how tired you are! Do you see these four monkeys I run after all day?" But why do we do this? Don't we remember how it felt to be at that stage of parenthood, how the days stretched before us and the thought of going to the bathroom uninterrupted seemed like an unattainable dream? None of us have it harder than the other simply because of the stage we and our children are in -- we all have our own challenges and struggles regardless.
As I watched from the window that day, sipping lukewarm coffee, I breathed a silent prayer. I asked God to help me see my children for the blessing that they are. I asked Him to show me the joy in the current stages of my kids and help me not to "wish away" the day we were given in hopes of an easier tomorrow. And that's when He reminded me: I'd only been woken up once the night before by one of my son's because he needed to use the bathroom (a habit we'd been working on quite diligently). I'd given my kids breakfast that morning which they fed to themselves and didn't come from me or a bottle. I was currently sitting in a way-too-comfy chair, still in my pajamas, watching them play at the wood's edge. Sure, there were a whole new set of challenges before me which I felt completely unprepared to handle... but there were also many others which had gotten easier over the years.
And God had equipped me for them all.