Being mama to little ones under 5 is hard. I haven’t gotten past it yet, so I don’t know how it changes as they get older. I’ve heard that it’s more emotional while this season is more physical.
All I know is that right now, this season of growing babies into preschoolers, is hard. With little sleep because my toddler is still breastfeeding and teething and needs lots of comforting and rocking through the night: With no personal space because they both need to touch me constantly. With no time to sit down because he’s climbing the furniture again and trying to break his head. With no quiet because she’s telling me a thousand things.
It is also a heartbreakingly beautiful season.
As he explores and wanders and she wonders and learns. Those thousand things she’s telling me are actually fascinating stories. He will insist we dance and sing and run outside. Their smiles light up my world. Their hugs melt all the frustration and stress away. And then we loop through more hard things, again.
It’s been hard to learn to balance and take care of me when I’m so focused on taking care of them. I have a full time job away from them, so my mom and sisters keep them during the dy. If I’m being honest, I appreciate the mental space away. But I feel the guilt too, so all my time out of work is spent with them. I don’t take evening commitments, because I need to be with them. I don’t do book club anymore, because that’s their time. (Plus I fall asleep these days when I try to read.) Some days I do resent it a little, but I also know there is only a little time left like this and then I’ll be asking my teenagers to remember I’m there.
We don’t have a clean house, though we keep it good enough to keep out vermin. Mu husband does most of the housework that gets done because I do most of the kid care. We’re still to tired for much. Dishes. Laundry. Sweep. Repeat endlessly.
I’ve stopped hating it and fight it—I just accept that this season in our life looks like this. I cannot be the super mom I see on Facebook who must get up at 3am to vacuum and dust and run and make crafts. I want to be her some days, but mostly I want to sleep when I get a chance. Plus my little guy won’t let me get away from bed—he need the book buffet open all night.
On the weekends, I choose to eat hundreds of pretend cakes in a tiara and go to the aquarium and play Candyland and read the book with the great train sounds instead of tackling the never-ending To-Do list.
I don’t regret it at all.
My gift to you is permission to let things go too, especially the guilt and should that don’t fit. Your kids won’t notice or remember if their birthday cake was made from scratch or store bought, they just remember you let them eat cake (!!!) and sat to eat it with them.
And, if you’re a full time at home mama, make sure you get those mental and physical breaks away. We love our kids, but we need our sanity too, and that sometimes means getting out of their sticky grasp for an hour or two.
I’ll leave you with a blessing, written just for this season in our lives.
May you always pick the right sippy cup.
May you cut the sandwiches at just the right angles.
May you get to shut the bathroom door for your entire potty break.
May you not have to share your chocolate with anyone.
May you get out the door with ease and with shoes for every foot.
May you not wish to run away to join the convent or circus today.
May you laugh and twirl and sing out loud.
May they touch your face and say “I love you mama” in that special way that melts your heart and makes this all worthwhile.
Bless you, Mama. This is hard and worthwhile work you do. You are molding the future.
(Full disclosure: I wrote this on my phone while nursing my little guy and rocking him to sleep. We always make it work, right?)
Raven Chitalo is mama to a 3 & 1/2-year-old master storyteller and a 1-year-old fearless adventurer. She firmly believes in the power of women to make great changes in our own lives and therefore in the world and that this power is of vital importance these days. She enjoys writing blessings and reading when she finds the time. She also enjoys dance parties and playing dress up. Connect with her at ravenchitalo.com