I was looking for an old picture in my phone last night and this one caught my eye in the grid.
When I opened it up to full screen … it was like I also double tapped my brain and made it remember EXACTLY how I felt in that moment.
I was about six weeks new into being a mom of two. The “newness” had worn off and the exhaustion had set in — JUST as my oldest began what would be a six-week phase of refusing to go to bed without me in the room.
I spent HOURS on the side of that bed; with a sometimes-nursing-sometimes-crying baby in one arm while the other hand stroked the hair of my toddler who was simply navigating all of this newness right along with me.
I had those light pink walls memorized… and the exact route out of that room that didn’t produce any creaks in the floor were covered in tears of frustration, exhaustion and the fear that this might, in fact, be impossible to do.
The constant pull between wanting to take care of one child, but not wanting to neglect the other. The instinct to automatically care for the child you’ve known longer, fighting with the longing to have alone time to bond with the baby that you know you love just as much. The fight between an inner voice that wanted to tell me it was ok, but was being outshouted by the one that started to make me believe that my days of having time for myself were over.
It was a scary and HARD place to be.
And on the days it was REALLY hard I tried to embrace the perspective of how lucky I was to have two healthy kids. Or to maybe listen to that sweet little old lady in the grocery store who told me to cherish it because it goes fast.
But that only made me feel more guilty for being as frustrated and sad as I was.
But as I looked at that picture last night, I felt nothing but gratitude that I went through that experience.
The grappling emotions. The feeling bad for myself. The wondering if I could do it. The exhaustion. The learning of the balance of managing multiple relationships and needs with multiple children… all while trying to figure our how to maintain a relationship with myself and my husband, too.
Because today as a mom of three… well… I am still dealing with all of those things.
The difference? I have a lot more experience that has led me to learn how to best navigate those situations. To learn how to take care of myself better so I can be more patient in frustrating moments. To learn that some days I will have to give more of my attention to one child than the others, and that doesn’t mean I love the others any less. To learn that the things that feel heavy now, will be a blink in my memory later.
To learn that parenthood is a series of seasons — and I can’t skip over any of them.
Because as hard as some moments seem, they are part of my path. They carry with them a lesson that I am going to need one day…and I have to feel each one in order to best arm myself for whatever parenting season is to come.