Being an adult and doing all-the-adulty-things can be really hard. Being a parent and doing all-the-parenty-things can also be really hard. When you combine these things with the challenges that exist when you have a toddler and a baby, tensions rise as quickly as patience falls. The result is inevitably an explosion of some kind.
In our house, the verbal shrapnel after an explosion can be found strewn across the room and embedded into the plastic toys and books littering the floor. On a particularly hard week wherein the baby was teething, the toddler was sick, and this mama was more sleep deprived than usual, I stood among the rubble after a particularly bad explosion and screamed in my head, “HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS?” “HOW MUCH MORE CAN I POSSIBLY TAKE?”
And I realized in that moment that I ask myself that question a lot. Usually it’s not so screamy. Usually it’s more of a fleeting thought that is gone as quickly as it came.
How much longer until she listens to what she is told to do THE FIRST TIME?
How much longer until he sleeps through the night?
How much longer until she is potty trained?
How much longer until he stops puking all over me?
How much longer until she is at school for small amounts of time?
How much longer until he doesn’t need me for EVERYTHING?
These fleeting thoughts last a mere moment, but their impact on my mood can last for hours. The thoughts often feed the overtired version of myself and result in a lot of justifying my resultant crappy behaviour.
A few days after that particularly bad explosion, I was sitting with my two children quietly reading stories, and the same thought fleeted across my mind, “How much longer…until they don’t want to read stories with me anymore?”
This thought sent goosebumps up and down my arms, and my mind continue to ponder this question.
How much longer until he stops falling asleep in my arms?
How much longer until she stops spontaneously crawling into my lap for a cuddle?
How much longer until he can feed himself, and he no longer needs me to provide his nourishment?
How much longer until she stops calling me “mama”?
How much longer until he is too embarrassed to give me big, squeezy hugs?
How much longer until she no longer wants to sing bedtime songs together?
How much longer until they don’t need me?
I stared down at my children, and saw how much they have grown in the 7 months that I have been home full time with them. I felt how quickly that time fleeted by…seemingly quicker than the fleeting thought that started all of this.
I know there are going to be many many more hard moments when I ask myself how much longer a certain behaviour of my children’s is going to last, or how much longer I am going to have to endure particularly frustrating phases. But with each of those hard moments that I want to end, there are a dozen precious moments that I want to hold on to for a lifetime.
In the end, I don’t know how much longer any of these moments will last, so I will breathe out with the hard moments, and breathe in with the good ones. With each moment that seems impossibly difficult I will answer the question of “how much longer?” with “this too shall pass”. With each moment that seems impossibly precious I will answer the question of “how much longer with “not nearly long enough.” And I will remind myself that one day I’ll look back at all of these moments and give anything to experience them again, explosions and all.