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If You're Sitting There With Spit-Up On Your Shirt, This One's For You

Over the last month or so, we’ve been transferring all our old family video onto a digital format. I have no idea how we’re doing it, so please don’t even ask. I simply know that there are numerous cables and buttons involved, so I happily back away, leaving the work to my technical support department, also known as my husband.

I understand enough to know that, in order to make the transfer, we need to let the videos actually cycle through the recorder. As a result, the last several weeks have been an intense walk down memory lane as hours upon hours of family video have played through my TV. There have been some surreal moments – it’s disconcerting to be chopping ingredients for dinner and suddenly hear the sounds of yourself giving birth in the next room.

This concentrated reminder of my days with little ones has made me feel extra reflective, as I’ve thought back to the season in which I had three little boys under the age of four. Seeing their sweet runny-nosed faces expanded on my TV screen prompts me to make several observations:

1. Three little boys is a lot of little boys. 2. Did we not own any Kleenex? 3. Sometimes carpet is a bad idea. 4. Those were precious days. 5. My word, that was HARD.

I’m not sure I was fully aware, back then, how incredibly taxing those days were. I operated much of the time in survival mode, buzzing between a pediatrician visit to a botched bedtime to a temper tantrum to an explosive diaper (or three). And I loved it – make no mistake. For all the exhaustion, there were many times that were so precious they did (and still do) take my breath away. But the intensity of the demands had me bouncing back and forth constantly between joy and discouragement, wonder and fear. I remember feeling guilty, sometimes, knowing there would never be a sweeter season in my life, so why was it that I sometimes just wanted everyone to go to sleep already?

I’m still very much in the trenches of motherhood, though I’ve mercifully passed into the days in which everyone is responsible for his or her own bodily fluids. Standing on this side of the preschool years, let me tell you, if you’re sitting there reading this with spit-up on your shirt, that you’re not crazy – what you’re doing is very hard.

And it really does get easier.

They grow up into remarkable little people who can fix their own sandwiches and laugh at your jokes and ask good questions. They can help you look for your keys, and they can unload your groceries. They bathe themselves, and they answer the phone. They’re really fun.

And you know all that, of course, because you’re parenting your little ones with the full of intention of watching them grow into independence. But I also know (oh, how I know) that the rigors of those early years can make it easy to lose sight of the fact that the days won’t always be so demanding. Sure, you’ll face plenty of intensity in the teen years, but it’s a very different kind of intensity from what you face now.

So, in the meantime, go easy on yourself. Enjoy those precious moments as they come, and know that the exhaustion and discouragement will sometimes roll through, as well. You’re normal. Tired, but normal.

Know, too, that the day will come (sooner than you think) when your little people will grow into big people. They’ll sit next to you on the couch, and together you’ll watch video of the demanding, adorable, wild, and funny days you’re living right now. You’ll laugh, and then, with a kiss and a pat, you’ll send them up to bed. And they’ll do it. All by themselves. And you will smile and think to yourself that this is very good.

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