“This too shall pass.”
As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches.
In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now.
Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of our patience. We clean poop and pee off of every surface, and wonder how we could ever think the newborn stage was so difficult.
As our child morphs into a precocious preschooler, we cling to every shred of patience in our being. We field constant questions and stubborn fits. We call them threenagers and fearsome fours, and laugh about how easy the so-called terrible twos.
With each passing stage, we are pushed, pulled, and stretched by our children in every physical and emotional way imaginable. We look hopefully to the next phase, only to get there and realize we have a whole new set of challenges to tackle.
I used to cling to the words “this this too shall pass” thinking there was some magical threshold when motherhood became easy. I endured sleepless nights, hoping my life would someday be “normal” again. As the years passed, and I was dealt new tests of my strength as a parent, I learned this threshold doesn’t exist. The truth is no parent has it easier, she is just in a different phase, striving to do her best.
Instead of waiting for things to “get easier”, I am accepting the struggles of each phase and drawing on my fortitude forged by my five-plus years of motherhood. I reach inside to find the piece of me who made it through the newborn and toddler years twice over and let that remind me of how far I’ve come and how I will make it through the coming years.
So, to you relatively new parents, those in the space between, and those on the verge of shifting to parenting teens and young adults, I say: parenting never gets easier. There will always be a new challenge to test us. We will always face difficult moments.
No, it doesn’t get easier.
But, we get stronger.
We get stronger with every time we comfort a crying child. We get stronger every time we endure yet another tantrum. We get stronger every time we teach our children how to accomplish a difficult task. We get stronger every time we make it to the end of the day with our family feeling safe and loved. We get stronger every time we as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbors work together to support and uplift those who are given the great responsibility of raising the future.