I settled into the rocker to help carry my toddler on into dream land, and as I positioned her wriggly body onto my lap I realized it was the third time I had been in that rocker that day. The comfy, rocking recliner was the sure way to subdue cranky littles, and I had certainly done my share of lullabies that particular day.
I looked down at my youngest daughter and she returned my gaze in the dim light with a dazzling smile and a slight chuckle. I couldn’t help but grin in return, and I remembered a time not that long ago where I had spent what seemed like the entire day in that chair. Three trips to the recliner was nothing compared to the every two hours of nursing a newborn.
The thing was it really didn’t seem that long ago, and though memories of my daughters’ infancies were slightly clouded by the haze of sleep deprivation I easily recalled certain things. The smell of a newborn’s head. The pride felt over such a precious treasure that had someone come out of your very own, imperfect body. And I wondered how had it gone so quickly?
Life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is crazy. It’s this hectic, exasperating series of repetitive days that never work out as planned, and often times end in tantrums and tears. It’s been said that motherhood is the toughest job in the world, and I can certainly see how. Some days it’s all you can do to just get by, and you frequently end the day in your own tears, praying that you didn’t mentally damage your children beyond repair.
In all the chaos, and in all the disfunction it’s easy to complain, and even easier to wish the day away. Who hasn’t been guilty of counting down till bedtime, and then rejoicing in the solitude of the quiet night. In all the begrudging work of being a parent to young babies it’s easy to look down into your lap one day and realize your baby is not so much a baby anymore. Or you look down into your lap and it holds a magazine instead of a child. You look at the clock, counting down to curfew, and as you stew in your parental concern you realize it’s too quiet in the solitude of the late night.
They say parenthood is hard, and I suppose that’s true, but it isn’t that hard.
Nursing school was hard, but then when I held my degree in my hands I cried in relief, and the difficulty faded away.
Bootcamp was hard, but as I executed Pass in Review with my proud Momma sitting in a place of honor next to the Commanding Officer, I thought little of the difficulties of repeated, perfect push-ups.
Parenthood is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but it’s the only one that you’ll regret wishing away. It’s the most difficult endeavor, but the only one you would desire to last forever. And though once a parent, always a parent, the crazy, busy of little kids is but a passing spark in the spectrum of childrearing.
It’s like you have to decide to roll with the punches because time is certainly rolling. It’s rolling away faster than you can grasp, and one day you’ll look up and beg to be sleep-deprived and booger-stained. I used to hate to hear people say that. As I sat muddled in my breastmilk-stained shirts, I would think, whatever. I was just certain my babies would stay babies long enough. But then one day you see.
One day you look up, and you wish you had complained less and savored more. You wish you had cleaned less, and instead played a little longer. And one day the dolls will be gone, the Legos given away, and you’ll miss the clutter of toys everywhere.
Parenthood isn’t that hard; rather it’s a privilege. When you are bestowed the gift of raising a tiny human you are given the privileged position to mold a life, and not just to raise it unharmed, but to cherish every single moment. Those moments that pass far too quickly.
For now I get to rock, and as I gaze down at the sleeping face of my youngest I feel honored to capture this moment forever, pressed between the pages of my heart.
Three times in the rocker? No matter. That’s three precious moments to savor their childhood, and what’s so hard about that?