Dear Mama of young children,
You have a hard job in front of you. Each stage of parenting has its own troubles, but it is when your children are little that sleep seems to evade you the most. You are so tired that you wonder if you will ever not feel this way again.
There is nothing like going to bed and the baby wakes up. He doesn’t know what he needs, but it certainly isn’t to sleep. You are exhausted. You crave sleep more than anything, even air at this point. You hold your baby praying that they will fall asleep before you fall asleep holding them.
So you’ve spent most of your night dealing with the baby who doesn’t want to sleep, you are only up because they are awake in their crib calling for you. You crawl out of bed, maybe you change your clothes, only to realize they need a diaper change. So you change their diaper.
Once you’ve wrangled the wiggly baby into a clean diaper and clothes, they declare they are starving. So you get up off the floor or couch. You fill a sipper cup with milk, hand it to the child while you make breakfast.
You search through your pantry looking for something easy, something that doesn’t require your brain to work because you haven’t made your coffee yet. Jackpot! You found some cereal left over in the box.
The baby gets picked up, put in the high chair, so you can give them their cereal. They begin eating but get thirsty, where is that milk I just gave you, you ask them. You go searching for the milk, when you come back they’ve eaten all the cereal. You hand them more and go make that coveted cup of life called coffee.
As you stand there, leaning against the wall with your eyes closed, the baby not only throws his unwanted cereal on the floor but his sipper cup that busts open spilling the last of the milk you have in your house. You open the fridge and find blueberries. They aren’t bad, in fact, they are healthy. You hand them to the baby.
While the baby is eating you empty the dishwasher and begin filling it again, only to hear the baby scream. Oh, yeah, that’s right, he needs something to drink since he broke the last sipper cup throwing it on the floor when he thought he was done. In the cabinet is the last sipper cup, the one you just pulled out the dishwasher, “where did all the sipper cups go?” You open the fridge again and find some apple juice, you fill the cup finding it is only half way full, “just add water.” You hand the cup to the baby.
You go back to fill the dishwasher, only to hear him scream because he is done and wants to get down to play. You leave him in there so you can fill the dishwasher. Once you are done you pick him up, and learn that he needs a new change of clothes and so do you since you are both covered in apple juice, “What in the world?!?” You sigh, “I forgot to put the stopper in the sipper cup.”
You change the baby and put him on the ground while you change your clothes. The house is quiet, peaceful, and then you hear a loud banging noise. You run through the house while you try to pull your pants up, “thankfully I haven’t opened the curtains yet.” What do you find, in that time period he opened the bathroom cabinet door and has dumped soap all over him and the floor.
Sigh! Strip the baby, and run bath water, because you know nothing else is going to get him clean. While he plays in the water you try to clean the floor, but he is splashing so much the soap becomes bubbles, making the job even harder. You spend the entire bath trying to fight the tidal wave of water coming from the bathtub while you clean up the soap.
Finally, you get the floor cleaned up, rinse the baby off, wrap him in a towel, and leave the room. Back to his room to get him dressed. This is when he takes the opportunity to pee, yes, right before you put the diaper on. Now your clean clothes are covered in pee. You quickly dress the baby then head to your room.
While you change your shirt, the baby finds the permanent marker your husband left in his pants. Just as you pull your shirt over your head, he has the cap off and begins coloring in BLACK all over your pretty cream colored walls and his face. Sigh! The walls will have to wait, you search for the baby wipes, only to realize the 3-year old used them to clean up her hands because she doesn’t like them to be dirty. FINE! You grab a wash cloth praying it will be enough.
You find the blocks and set the baby down to play with the 3-year-old while you put a load of laundry in the wash, yes all those wet clothes better get washed before they mildew. You hear a splashing sound. “Oh no, did I drain the bathtub” You leave the laundry room and rush to the bathroom? You look in the tub and it is empty, but you find the baby playing in the toilet, right after the potty trained 3-year old used it.
You grab the baby, flush the toilet, and wash him up. Time for another clean outfit.
While you are changing the baby you hear the washing machine working. “Wow, thankfully something is going right.”
You put the baby back down on the floor, go close all the doors, “No more playing in other rooms for you stinker.”
You realize you haven’t had breakfast or that coffee yet. You go back to the kitchen only to find your coffee cold. At this point you don’t care, you add ice and are thankful you have that elixir that brings life. You grab a yogurt from the fridge and head back to the living room where you left the baby.
At this point, the washing machine is done. You go to move the laundry around leaving your coffee and opened yogurt on the coffee table. “I’ll just be gone a minute.”
In the laundry room, you see that the washing machine ran with nothing in it. In your rush to see what the splashing noise was you forgot to fill it, so it ran empty. You quickly fill the washing machine and run it again.
You stand there listening to it fill, only to hear another scream. You rush back to the living room to find the 3-year-old covered in your yogurt because, “I’s hungry, Mama,” and the baby is wet! “WHAT! I was only gone a minute!” You pick him up only to smell the coffee. You look into your coffee mug and are immediately thankful it was cold.
Once again you find yourself changing his clothes, “is this the fourth or fifth time today?” Then you go back to clean up the 3-year-old only to find she used the towel from the bathroom floor, you the know the one you cleaned the soap up with, to wash her face. Now she is screaming because she can’t get her face clean. You put the baby down and clean up the 3-year-old.
You grab them both and leave the bathroom. You head back to the kitchen to make yourself another cup of coffee and realize it is 11:30 and time to make lunch. Sigh!
Maybe this isn’t your morning every day, and maybe this is a little ‘Mouse and cookie,” but I know we’ve all had days that seem like this. Days where we are running on E and just trying to make it through. Days where you are praying for the time when your husband comes home so you can shower.
I want you to know you aren’t alone in this battle. I’m right there with you. There are so many others who are facing this battleground every day. They are just as tired as you are. They are looking at the mess and wondering if they will survive. They go through half and day and wonder where the time went.
This time will be gone soon. I promise they do grow up and stop playing in the toilet. Eventually, they can get themselves dressed. Soon they will be making bigger messes outside, but at least it will be outside.
BUT your baby will no longer be a baby. If you ask an empty nester they will tell you to enjoy the moments, because they will be gone sooner than you think. As a mom who has one who will be graduating from high school next year, I agree. The time has passed so quickly. Now all I have are memories of the little stinker until he gives me grandchildren.
So Mama, I know it is crazy. I know you are tired. I know you are trying. You can do this. You can enjoy this or you can stress about it. You can play with them or resent them. The choice is up to you. Are these going to be happy memories or stressful times?