Life is already a roller coaster and then you add children to the mix and that roller coaster becomes quite an unpredictable ride – laden with neck-breaking speeds, dark tunnels, stomach-lurching drops, and whiplashing turns and curves. It took me a few months once R was born to wrap my head around how life would be now that he was out of me and needed 24-hour care. I don’t think anyone or anything can prepare you for those first few months. One of the biggest adjustments for me was accepting that I was in the “newborn season” of parenting and motherhood…and that many (if not all) things that once seemed relaxing and casual in my day-to-day life were now put on pause due to an 8 pound 20-inch little human – that cried… a lot and ate… a lot. I naively imagined a sleeping little newborn in a rocker who slept for hours upon hours all day long and wanted to be carried in a skin-to-skin carrier…lovingly cooing or snoozing on my chest. Ohhh was I so so wrong! Now…it can happen…some babies can do that once in a while…but not ours…and likely not the majority. After feeling sorry for myself for the first few months I learned what it meant to be in “seasons of motherhood” seasons that would be unique to our family and unique to our baby.
While all parents will experience “seasons”…those seasons will look different for each of us. One baby may sleep through the night by two months old and another may not until two years old. Both are “seasons”….one just looks a little different than the other. And while your baby may be the one that doesn’t sleep through the night until two years old…perhaps they are the one that takes to potty training more quickly than the baby who was sleeping through the night by two months. I think back to friends of mine who had babies around the same time as when I had R…as a new mother and especially a first-time mother…everything felt foreign. I was confused, sleep-deprived, and scared I should be doing things differently – and maybe then if I did the things that others were doing…then things would feel easier – I was convinced it was hard because I was failing at something. Thinking like this draws you to look at other momma’s and see their seasons as completely clashing with yours…and chances are…they ARE! Because again our seasons look so different…even when they are similar in timing. One of my momma friends could breastfeed like a champ…her baby latched easily, she produced a lot of milk (gave away extra)…and had a great time with the experience. R and I experienced the season of breastfeeding a whole lot differently. He didn’t latch unless we had a nipple shield and was happy and content with a bottle by two months old – so I pumped breast milk for the majority of my breastfeeding time with him. Right now R is learning to potty train…and while we are only a handful of days in it’s been a struggle. He’s a headstrong, stubborn little boy who although knows perfectly well what we are asking of him and has done it before…won’t sit on the potty to save us all. This is the current season we are facing. Add terrible two tantrums to the mix and we’ve got quite the tornado season whipping through our home right now. But again…it’s a season…one that will blow through as quickly as it came. Our children are uniquely and wonderfully made to 1) test our patience and sanity till we barely feel we are hanging on and 2) to surprise us and impress us beyond measure…our job is to just hang on tight and ride this rollercoaster along with them.
Season of Expectations
We are creatures of habit, expectations, and routine…and those expectations can really put us through the wringer as parents…if we let it. I’ve learned that the minute I have expectations on a specific phase of R development and toddler life…it backfires in my face and teaches me humility as a parent all over again. We can have hopes for our children that we internally construct and see but pushing them onto our children won’t help them and will only frustrate us. This “wisdom” (do I dare call it that?) has helped me let go of having control or expectations over R potty training schedule. My hope is that he’ll get this figured out before his little sister Quinn arrives in August…it’s the end of April…that gives him four months…my expectations tell me he should be potty trained by then…but in reality…he may not…we make take a few steps backward…we may not hit that internal hope I have for the situation…and if not…I’ve learned that it’ll be ok. He won’t be in diapers forever, and this season will eventually pass by and we’ll enter a new one. It is what we call…memories.
Validation in the Season
Being frustrated and even annoyed with a certain season your child is taking you through is 100% valid. Just because we can anticipate the seasons and know they will end doesn’t eliminate the frustration a parent feels when their one-year-old is up for who knows what reason at 2:00 a.m. and stays awake until 5:00 a.m. (and then said parent works at 7:00 a.m.) validating your feelings in these seasons is healthy and normal. I recently went through a season where R wasn’t napping and Dusty was busy with school and out of town for interviews for days at a time. All I wanted was to nap when R napped, read a book, or work on my blog. But R had other plans and didn’t nap… the season of “nap strikes” went for about two months straight and I was convinced naptime was over for good and then he randomly started napping again – willingly. When our children throw our expectations off course we are quick to Google “why is my toddler doing ____?” or “how can I get my toddler to ____?” and while getting ideas about things helps provides us with a sense of control that we hope will ease the strain of the season…it doesn’t always fix it. This my dear friends is when patience steps in…and we are challenged beyond our limits.
Reflection on the Seasons
After two and a half years in with our first (and with a second on the way and due in just a handful of months), the term “seasons” has morphed into a powerful term that calms my spirit and regrounds me. It brings me back to those early days and reminds me of the knowledge and greater understanding I’ve gained during my short time as a mother. Some seasons are easier than others and feel less straining on my mental and emotional health…while others are much harder. I don’t claim to have it all figured out and I frantically complain about certain seasons to my husband, my mom, my friends, and just about anyone who will listen. I ask for advice…I commiserate with mothers who have gone through a similar season…and I always seem to come out with the same glaring response that echoes in my mind and heart.
It’s only a season…it’ll last for a little while, so hold fast and hold tight…it’ll soon be a memory.
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. – Ecclesiastes 3