If you are a mom of little ones, you have probably been told on more than one occasion to cherish this time in your life, be grateful for every moment because they grow up so quickly and before you know it, their childhood will be over.
I’m sure this was said by a well-meaning older mom who had been where you are currently but had miraculously seemed to forget how grueling the baby and toddler phases are.
You probably wanted to throw a few profanities her way but managed to politely smile instead.
Oh, I can remember how long those days felt when my kids were younger. And yes, the years do go by very quickly, but honestly, when you’re in the trenches, it’s really easy to lose sight of that.
I can vividly remember staring out the window around 5 p.m. on many days, willing my husband’s car to appear outside our house. If I had to read “Moo, Moo Brown Cow” one more time, I was going to lose my mind.
I was totally bored by the monotony of being home with the kids but too tired to conjure up ideas of how to motivate myself for anything more stimulating than an hour of Netflix once the kids had gone to bed.
I have been that tired mom, trying to get some rest in the exact place where many of you are right now.
So while you’re going through it, here are some secrets I’ve learned along the way that may ease your journey.
You’re not missing out or doing it wrong, you’re just in it.
If you don’t feel grateful for every moment with your kids, you are not doing anything wrong. You are doing everything right to keep these little ones alive, fed, happy, entertained, and healthy. That leaves little time for you to feel anything other than thoroughly depleted. Give yourself grace.
Know that if you’re not cherishing every move your child makes like it’s a milestone, you’re not missing out. You will still get to look back and realize what a precious time in your life that was. You’ll realize you didn’t miss a thing, you were there for it all.
Aim for a few heart moments a day.
You don’t need to cherish and be grateful for every moment, but try to find a few throughout your day that make your heart full.
Even if it’s just one moment when you’re putting your little one in for a nap and you notice how soft her hair is and how the smell of her head is a scent you would know anywhere. That’s your heart moment for the day.
Maybe you don’t even remember what your heart moment was the day before, but you know you had one.
Don’t try to be a perfect mom for your kids, be a human one. You are raising little humans after all and modeling how to be a human is a huge part of what they need from you.
Let them see that humans make mistakes. Humans say, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I felt very angry at that moment . . .” because humans are emotional. Even the grown-up humans cry sometimes when they get frustrated.
You are simply a little further along down life’s path than your child is, just trying to walk the path in a way you want them to learn to walk it. Let them see who you are.
Embrace the child you have.
You’ll make things a lot easier for yourself (and your child) if you let go of your preconceived expectations about the child you were going to have and start embracing the child you do have.
Just like you can’t spend your days trying to be the perfect mom, you also can’t expect your little one to fit into the vision you had in your mind of the perfect little child.
Find a way to let go of that image and embrace that you already have a perfect child because he’s yours.
Start discovering who this perfect little human is.
Let your kid be messy. Let him wear his rain boots when it’s sunny. Let her dress herself in mismatched clothes for preschool.
I’ve learned it makes your life that much easier when you start going with the flow and following your little one’s lead, rather than trying to shape him or her into how you think they should be.
Most importantly, you are instilling in your child that you accept them for whoever they are and this can only help your child grow and develop with a greater sense of self-acceptance and confidence later in their childhood and teen years.
This will lead them to make brave choices—ones you will be proud of.
Realize you are the most loved you’ll ever be.
The little kid phase is brutal—it is—but realize this is the most loved you’ll ever be in your whole life.
If you have boys, they probably want to marry you when they grow up. If you have girls, they want to be just like you and love to dress up in your clothes.
You are so loved.
You are the center of their universe, their everything.
I know my kids will always be my universe even when they are all grown up. But I’m also aware of the reality that I won’t always be the center of theirs.
There will come a time when they don’t need you the way they do when they’re little. My kids are still fairly young, my oldest is 10, but it’s already happening for me.
I may still want to kiss every boo-boo and wipe every tear away, but they want to get up and keep running with their friends.
I may want to snuggle in bed on a weekend morning, but they want to head downstairs and pour themselves some cereal.
I may still want to feel a tiny hand in mine as we cross the street, but they want to look both ways and cross on their own.
I may want to push a stroller to the park and chit-chat along the way, but they want to speed down the street on their bikes so fast I can’t keep up.
The next chapter is even better.
It just keeps getting better as your kids get a little older and don’t need so much from you.
You get to sleep again. They wake up in the morning and leave you alone.
They go to birthday parties or play dates and don’t want you to stay, so you go get a manicure.
They ride their bikes around the neighborhood with friends and text you to let you know they’re OK, loving their newfound independence and you loving yours.
You are more rested, freer, have more time for yourself, and it’s glorious.
It’s also so rewarding to watch these little humans become the people they are going to be and to help them figure it all out. Now, they need you in a different way.
But they still need you.
It’s just not a complete all-consuming need anymore that takes everything out of you each and every day.
So for those who are still in the trenches, wondering how others manage to feel grateful for every moment when all you feel is tired, you will get there.
You will get to the point where you can look back at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re headed, and have the space in your mind to finally feel grateful for it all.
I know this because I’m here now.
I’m grateful for every moment even though I might not have been grateful in every moment.
But now, today, I am . . . grateful.
Originally published on the author’s blog