Hey you. Yes, you. I’m you of yesteryear. We need to talk. Me, old me with wee little ones, to you, new me of growing kids. Baby girl just turned a year old, the youngest and the last. Oldest is soon to enter kindergarten. I see it happening already, little by little—that nostalgia covering up the hard stuff of those young years. You know, the reality.
I’m still trying to figure out reality and perspective (a lifelong venture I assume) but I’m confident they are not one in the same. I was ashamed at your internal response when you heard a mama speak to how tired she was four days into motherhood. It was a mix of rude, stifled laughter, saying, “Suck it up, buttercup!” and an internal tinge of “Ah, I miss that!”
What?! NO. Remember to empathize with the young mamas (and dads!). You don’t miss the reality of the whole; you miss the cuteness but not the weeks of little sleep, little showering, and little time for anything other than babies. And that’s fine. I’m just saying, while you remember longingly how fast it goes, remember the slow parts too.
Remember being four days into motherhood? The cracked, bloody nipples, the baby just out of the NICU, family in town, recovering from an emergency c-section after 19 hours of labor. And… oh yeah, did I mention the baby in all its awake-all-night glory?
I need you… er…me, to toe the line between telling a mom to nap when she can and telling her all the ways she will never nap again. Stop telling moms anything—listen! Remember how desperately you wanted someone to really hear you, just hear you and say that they heard you? No advice, no perspective, no figuring out how to make every moment count. And oh my goodness, not the “You’ll understand one day.” That’s just you shoving your life experience in my way while I’m trying to build up my own. It’s not helpful.
She’ll understand one day just as you did, and she doesn’t need the smug foretelling from me. She needs kindness, an open ear, and some coffee. Maybe a glass of wine. And the clothes folded because she’s got one to lots of little extra bodies in the house but all are too young to help with much of anything.
I’m not saying the pressures and situation of being a mother with older children is easier or harder or anything. I’m not comparing so please, me of older children, don’t compare your nostalgic reminisces down memory lane with a new mom’s present reality of the early years.
So as I am getting older and the kids are too, please, please take a moment, Older Me. Remember to live fully here, in this time and season, whichever one it is, but no pressure on making the most of it. I imagine you are doing the best you can, like most of us are. Sure, look back in warm fuzziness but remember the hard parts too. The parts of you in despair for parts of the day, dreading long days alone with three little children and no adults, day after day…after day.
Remember those glory days as what they were—a mixed bag, day-to-day and sometimes even moment-to-moment. They were beautiful, somehow possible in spite of their seeming impossibility, messy, some of your best moments and some of your worst. Glorious.
Lynette is a mom of three children from one year to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.