Originally published Tuesday, 20 May 2014.
Dear mom of little ones,
My daughter woke me up last night.
Well, actually it was this morning. The glaring red of the digital clock claimed it was 4:20.
I believed it.
She’s almost nine.
Years, that is. Not months.
She knocked on the bedroom door and drew me out of my dream, and told me that all of her blankets had fallen to the ground. And being the selfless mother that I am, I groaned inwardly and called back, “Can’t you just put them back on your bed?”
But she insisted that she needed help, so I shuffled to her room in the moonlit darkness.
I tucked her in for the second or third time since saying goodnight, then hobbled my aching body back to bed.
And as I crawled back under the duvet, I realized how seldom that happens anymore. How they barely wake me up at all.
My youngest is turning seven this month, and in spite of the rare occasion here and there, all three of my kids have been sleeping through the night for years.
There was a time not so long ago when I thought it would never happen again.
When waking up every three hours was as likely and common and expected as the sunrise.
Last week we babysat two little 18-month-old boys, on separate occasions.
I had to change diapers.
It’s been years since I’ve had to change a diaper.
A simple act that was once a fixture in my hourly routine has somehow become a distant memory.
I know, if you’re still in the thick of it, such a claim sounds hard to believe.
I wouldn’t have believed it either.
months years of potty-training, and waking up in the middle of the night to another “accident,” and laying beach towels down on the floor and calling it a bed, I was once convinced, like Melanie Shankle, that my child would be packing a bag of Pampers for her move to college one day.
I was told by countless people that the time would pass quickly, and I nodded politely and agreed, “I’m sure it does.” But inside I would think, “the days. They just never end. And the nights. They’re even worse.”
When my firstborn entered the world, they told me that the first six weeks would be the hardest.
Those six weeks felt like six years.
Those weeks and months when you’re functioning in such a sleep-deprived stupor that you finally find your car keys in the fridge, and only realize after bedtime that you went to the store with your shirt on inside out. Again. And don’t forget the trail of dried, white spit-up that was streaked down the back of your shoulder.
But for me, those days are over now, and I look at my kids making their own lunches and setting off the smoke alarm when they wanted burned toast, and I join the stereotypical throng and ask, “Where did it go? When and how did they get so big?”
The cuddles on the couch are fewer and further between, and even when they have a fever, they don’t fall asleep on my chest anymore.
When they’re so little, it’s hard. I know. It’s exhausting.
But it’s so precious.
So hang in there.
Take snapshots in your mind. Frame them with your memory.
Remember that every good and perfect gift is from above.
Even when your morning starts at 4:20am.
And when those days are gone, we’ll find ourselves looking back and longing for a shirt stained with sour milk.