My rollercoaster ride through motherhood so far has had its ups and downs, like any. Crazy exhilarating ups and deep dark lows too. My two children are polar opposites, and have been since birth. A text book baby girl and 21 months later a ‘colicky’ and most often times unreasonable boy. So many nights I would fall to my knees feeling like I was at the complete end of my rope and pray to God to give me strength. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get through this alive, and I still had 18 years to go! But I’ve had some help along the way, and some words of wisdom that have put my journey in perspective, even now, at what I’ll someday refer to as the beginning.
Audrey was your typical baby; she did everything on cue, just as the 12 books on parenting I read said she would. If we hit a bump in the road, that’s all it was, a bump. Looking back, I remember her “witching hour” as a baby, 10:30 every night for about half an hour, she cried. But she just needed to cry. The rest of the day, she was easy going, potable, friendly, curious and social. Later when my son arrived, I had the same expectations. When the crying soon passed an hour, then two, inconsolable often, non-responsive to the textbook parenting tricks I had prided myself on mastering; I started to worry, and not to mention doubt my mothering abilities as a whole. So I rocked, sang, bounced, snuggled, shushed, patted; and Gabe still cried, he still does mind you, and he’s two! Since I was nursing I even changed my diet upon my pediatrician’s recommendation thinking it was something I was eating. Still to no avail, I relented and took him in to the pediatrician. It has to be colic I told the doctor, he’s inconsolable. Sleep deprived and on the verge of throwing myself from the nearest stairwell, I’ll never forget his heart shattering words. “It’s just his temperament” he said. “Some babies cry more than others and he may grow out of it; he may not.” The doctor must have thought I was looking at him crazy eyed, because he just grinned and said, “Is your husband there to help?” Now what was I going to do I thought to myself in a haze? I came to the pediatrician that day looking for answers and not only didn’t I get one, but I also didn’t like or want to accept my alternative. God please help me. Prayer answered. A week later a package arrived in the mail from my pediatrician’s wife, and consequently a friend. Eat Your Peas for New Moms. The first page listed her phone number and said if you need to talk I’m here, no advice, just to listen. When I got to the page with the quote…“When the baby keeps you awake all night, remember you’ll have a lifetime to catch up on your sleep. But you’ll never have this night with your little one again.” I must have reread it fifty times. That night sitting in the rocking chair with my crying babe, I echoed that verse over and over again. And it really helped. I think I looked at Gabe differently from that night on. I accepted his tears and screams and realized I loved him no matter what and we would get through this. As I had learned with my oldest, time slips away too quickly and before you know it, the rocking and bouncing and snuggling dissipates; so I cherished it.
Now Gabe is two, the temper tantrums never receded; he has the full-blown kicking, throwing whoppers and I sometimes feel as though I’m going to lose my mind. And then I chant the mantra, I’ll never have this day again. When my four year old wants to play princess dress-up for the 20th time of the day and I see the laundry pile growing and the dishes calling, I quote the verse. I’ll never have this day again. When the corner has been visited more minutes than on my hands in the first hour of the day, I recite the mantra; I’ll never have this day again. I know I’ll recite this quote even into old age and God-willing about my grandchildren. It calms me, because I know it’s true. And so often in motherhood it is rare to come across absolutes.
Have I lived this day with them to the fullest, made them smile, told them I loved them? Those are all things I can do tomorrow, yes, but I’ll never be able to tell them those things yesterday. We certainly can’t be there for every moment and yes, the dishes and laundry have to get done eventually; but I consciously make time and take time. Didn’t Jesus also tell us this too shall pass? Now looking back, my be-draggled aura gone, my eyes are no longer bloodshot from my own tears; and I only remember holding him, rocking him, smelling that just from heaven scent. I’ll never have this day with them again, so I’m going to stop writing and go play with my kids.