She went on to talk about how the sleepless nights don't change because you start waiting up for your teenager to get home. I was tempted to ask her if she waited up for her children every night....and if she woke up every 2-3 hours to wait up for her child. This is not the first time I have heard someone say this. I actually witnessed someone saying this to my postpartum friend of TWINS no less. Telling her that she would always be that tired but would just get used to it. PISHAW!!
As a mother who has had 3 newborns come home (at separate times), I know that a parent does not have to get up every 2-3 hours and feed a child for 45 minutes for 18 years. I'm not sure I would have 3 children if that were the case. New babies begin to stretch out their sleep after a month or so. Gradually, it becomes a full night of sleep - usually before the first year is over.
I know that parenting in 10 years will look completely different. There will be new challenges that absolutely terrify me right now - like when one of my children starts hanging out with friends I don't like or when they get a broken heart or when they don't come home on time and I'm worried sick. But I never want to tell a mom of little children that sleep will look the same for her in 10 years or that it never gets any easier. I want to encourage her and cheer her on. (Don't get me wrong - I have a lot of cheerleaders. There was even a lady at Kroger the other day who took my buggy back to the cart return for me because she "remembered those days" and wanted to help me. I want to be that lady!)
Anyway, lest I forget, this is what parenting little ones looks like...
- Each of my babies was about 9 months old before I got to sleep for 8 hours straight at night. A sleepless night here or there does not compare to MONTHS of less than adequate sleep. In addition to just being plain tired all day, the lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to colds, emotional, cranky, and just plain forgetful.
- Most of my waking hours with my kids are spent with my brain constantly thinking about their safety. And I mean immediate safety. It's a constant circus in my mind. I am eyeing electrical outlets the moment I enter a new room and looking for choking hazards on the floor. My little kids have no awareness for basic safety so my senses have to be peeked and alert for them - all THREE of them.
- What's in Henry's mouth?
- Is Lucy touching the car? I can't see her. Oh there is her head.
- Girls! Stop playing. This is a parking lot!
- Because my brain and eyes are constantly moving from kid to kid, I never have a focused adult conversation. I do my best to be polite and hide it, but I'm probably only hearing half of the conversation. I miss completing conversations and I'm embarrassed that I made you repeat yourself 3 times.
- My first year of mothering was filled with so many insecurities. I hung on every bit of advice from books, doctors, websites and people. I stressed so hard trying to obey all of the rules in the books and the rules from other people. It was incredibly scary. The words other parents said to me could either lift me up or haunt me. I want to be oh-so-sensitive with the words I say to first-time-moms especially.
- But oh how amazing it felt to be praised by another parent- to be told "good job!" or "You're a great mom!" It still feels pretty amazing. I still battle that same insecurity - not nearly as much, but there is still the worry if my kids are going to turn out ok. A pat on the back and word of encouragement boosts moms. I'm guessing this will not change as I parent teenagers. I find myself cheering for moms of teenagers now realizing that all moms are probably a little insecure and could use some encouragement.
- There is no rest for the weary or sick for that matter. We just had a stomach bug - a bad one come through our house. I've never been so sick in all my life. Adam had to dress me and drive me to a doctor to get a shot so that I could keep fluids down and start to get better. I have never required medical intervention for a stomach bug. And of course the very next day Adam got sick. My weak and very sick body had to take care of 3 kids, change bed sheets, bathe little bodies, and hold down the fort. These little people are growing everyday and starting to do more stuff for themselves, but they are still very little and required every ounce I had that day and more.
- Every task I do at home is completed across many 5 minute segments. I used to think that if I only had 5 minutes, it wasn't worth working on laundry or dishes. But with 3 little ones, I value 5 minutes like the gold that it is - I value 1 minute for the gold that it is! I can fold 3 items of laundry in a minute. I can unload 1/4 of the dishwasher, make half a bed, windex a mirror, read an email. My tasks are all broken into little bits. This also explains why they may only be halfway done or why I forget if the dishwasher dishes are clean or dirty. But I honestly don't know of another way to do it. As my kiddos get older, they can be independent for longer periods of time. But when Henry was born, I did everything in 5 minute segments. It was the only way I could get anything done.
In my limited experience, I've noticed that parenting for me right now is very physical - waking up in the middle of the night, potty training, getting up and doing for my little ones. There's a good bit of mental in there as well - remembering all the things for the diaper bag, the constant crazy of keeping them safe. I'm thinking as these kiddos get older, it will become less physical and more of the mental/emotional.
I just did a post about how this is my brag blog and here I go writing a post about the hard parts of parenting. This kid of post is rare for me. But everytime one of my babies starting nearing the one year mark, I seem to have a lot of reflection and what this lady said to me that day really caused me to reflect. I want to be the lady offering to return a young mom's buggy to the cart return or the lady who just passes that mom in the grocery store and says "Your children are so well behaved!"