There’s a little pep talk that I give myself every morning around 2:30am when I have a 4 year old sleeping on top of me like an octopus and sucking her thumb like a starved pig attacking it’s mother’s nipples…“This is temporary…” She won’t be in this stage forever. She won’t go to college still needing middle of the night cuddles from Mommy and Daddy (although one of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes is when Rory moves to Yale and calls her Mom the first night to come hang out…I might be totally cool with that scenario…). Still, every day I have to remind myself that whatever stage we are in is just temporary.
Let’s face it, with all the demands of parenting and constant needs that MUST be met right now, it’s really easy to get lost in the minutiae of it all. Right now, my life seems like a revolving door of who is hungry, who is overtired and who hasn’t pooped recently. I get caught up in the business of raising people and forget that it’s only a brief period of time.
The 6 year old who thinks that the repeating game is fun? Temporary. The 4 year old who gets maniacally crabby at 3pm if she doesn’t have some quiet time to herself? Temporary. The 2 year old who has an intrinsic need to either be physically on top of me or touching me every waking minute of his day? Temporary. The tantrums?! Temporary. These are stages that will be grown out of before I even know it happened. I can’t expect myself to embrace their annoying stages, but I can find solace in the acceptance that it won’t last forever.
What I do have a hard time accepting is the loss of the good stages. Sure, I complain about the annoying things, but there are SO MANY good stages going on at the same time! The 6 year old who is excited that he is learning how to read and likes to practice by reading to me. The 4 year old who can’t figure out which activity is her favorite so she wants to learn how to do everything. The 2 year old that gives the best darn cuddles I’ve ever had. It’s not fair that these stages are temporary too! It’s the good stages that make me mourn the fact that my kids are growing up and changing right before my very eyes.
The bottom line is that, as parents, we truly can handle whatever anxiety-provoking, sleep-depriving torture that these tiny people are giving us. One day, they WILL sleep through the night. They WILL eat a vegetable. They WILL use the toilet. You aren’t the first parent to go through this and you aren’t the first parent to wish it would all go faster. Just remember that even though the frustrating stages will pass, so will the good ones.
Parenting has great highs and great lows, but it’s all the little stuff in the middle that make it meaningful. I think that part of being a successful parent is learning to accept that everything we are going through is temporary. It won’t last and we will be lucky if we can even remember half of what happened. Sure, I’m trying to survive this parenting gig, but I’m also trying to enjoy it. So give yourself whatever daily pep talk that you need to get through the day. Have it crocheted on a pillow, tattooed on your arm, or just written on a post-it note stuck to the microwave.