I’ve had several moms with older kids tell me recently how much they miss the phase of motherhood that I currently find myself in. They have told me to appreciate this time with my seven and four-year-old, because, before I know it- they will be those creatures called teenagers. I’ll be honest here and say that I smile politely while thinking to myself, “anytime you want to watch them to get that old feeling back, you’re welcome to it!”
It is a stretch to go back and remember what it was like to have a newborn and be in completely unfamiliar territory, feeling desperate and isolated as a new mom. I’m in the thick over-growth of the “in-between” forest now, the preschool and elementary years. The crushed Cheerios in the carpet, toys taking over every room in the house, holding my breath instead of completely losing it on my kids phase. One in which I am trying in vain at mealtimes to get one kid to sit down and the other to eat a vegetable. Where the table is frequently covered in dried glue and stains from paint and markers because of all the crafts my children like to do.
Yes, this phase often means banging my head against the wall when my daughter is super clingy and I can’t figure out what’s wrong because she mumbles all her words. It equals embarrassment when my son has no filter on the words he says to complete strangers. It means exasperated sighs when I’m trying to get housework accomplished, and I’m constantly interrupted by both kids who are fighting over toys.
It also means wanting to hide in the bathroom for five minutes of alone time, if I can just get the door shut before Rory rushes in there to “help” me. It most definitely means thinking I will go crazy if I hear the word “MO-MMY!!” one. more. time.
I do miss the days when they were cute, cuddly babies and look forward to when they will be more independent as teens. But I know I can never get those years back, and if I spend so much time pining for the future I will miss the blessings of the present. This stage in between feeding, rocking, and changing non-stop and teen rebellion is a lot of stinkin’ work.
But it’s also exhilarating. It’s fun to watch both of them learn new things and play together. I still have so much influence over what they watch, do, and eat. Their disobedience is relatively small right now, and their faith is big. Their hearts are soft and innocent, making them a perfect place for Jesus to live.
While I am in the thick of cleaning up the same messes, racking my brain for creative ways to reinforce school lessons, correcting, soothing, and struggling, I could easily overlook the moments that God breaks through my hectic day and reminds me He is there. God sees me and is with me (Matthew 6:5-7). When I’m lonely and frustrated and doubting myself. When I pray with my children and teach them to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. When the four-year-old gives me a hug and a kiss just because. When the seven-year-old writes sentences all by himself and proudly shows them to me.
And then I am thankful that I get to be here for every single, solitary moment- real and raw as they are. This roller coaster that I ride daily with them is absolutely, totally worth it.
I love having them press in close while I read them stories, see them dance and sing the wrong words to songs, and experience life through their eyes. I know one day I will look back on these days in which the pages of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” play out repeatedly, and my heart will ache for when they were that little. Then I will be “that older lady” telling another mom to try to treasure these moments, even though you feel like you’re going to be swallowed up in them.