family life, family photojournalism, Life As We Know It

I Didn’t Understand

We all know that Facebook is basically the devil, right? For us stay at home moms, it’s an unending supply of comparison (thief of joy) and self-improvement articles. Heck, even the blog posts “encouraging” young moms, the ones that are supposed to make you feel good, often make you feel very, very bad. “Tough day? Be grateful. Feeling stuck? Enjoy it, because…

“Enjoy it, because, this season of life is fleeting. Enjoy it, because babies don’t keep. Enjoy it, because everyone is healthy. Enjoy it, because it means you’ve been greatly blessed.” And yes, I agree, we should enjoy it. We should thank our gracious God for the gifts that accompany this parenting thing – they are abundant. The slobbery kisses, the giggles, the unabashed confidence of a toddler. Raising tiny humans is truly a beautiful thing to be involved in. We definitely should enjoy it…

But…(you knew there would be a but, didn’t you??)…it’s frigging HARD. I never anticipated how hard these days would be. I heard people say it was the hardest thing, but the best thing, they had ever done. And I just didn’t understand.

I didn’t understand that it would be hard to hold in my temper. I didn’t understand that it would be hard to let out my temper, because the littles are always watching. I didn’t understand how hard it would be for my body to move and bend and lift and roll with ease again. I didn’t understand how it would be hard to find time or motivation to do simple things, like shower, or shave my legs, or brush my teeth. I didn’t understand how hard it would be constantly have voices asking me questions, crying for my attention, needing something from me. I didn’t understand how much I’d be affected by years of wondering if someone was going to wake up sick, or wanting to eat, or needing reassurance in the dark. I didn’t understand how hard it would be to stay home all day, every day, and feel like I got nothing accomplished; to look at a room that was clean(ish) yesterday and realize it was a war zone. I didn’t understand that it would be hard to let go of my own hobbies, or income, or mental acuity.

This stage of life is hard. Children are hard. Ingesting actual food and not just coffee and wine is hard. Keeping a tidy house is hard. Not stress shopping while nursing the baby at 4 am is hard. It’s just HARD. And I think it’s incredibly good and healthy to admit that. There’s a freedom in confessing that getting everything you ever thought you wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Would I change it? Nope. I love our life. I love our loud, stinky, messy children. I love seeing their faces light up when they conquer a new skill, and I love being the one who gets to experience their every day with them. Even in all those big, wonderful emotions, though, there is a very real sense of discouragement over the difficulty of the days.

If you’re reading this, feeling discouraged and downtrodden and like life is immeasurably hard – you’re not alone. This endless cycle of diapers and laundry and tantrums and unwrapping cheese isn’t forever. I’m not going to tell you to enjoy it right now, I’m going to tell you this is a tunnel, and you’re closer to the light than you were yesterday. If your life is hard, and beautiful, and not what you expected, hold on. It’s all so fleeting. The hard and the bad come and go just as quickly as the good. And the truth of it is – it’s all actually quite beautiful, this tapestry of your life. Just give it time.

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