It’s incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

Today I took my two boys to a doctor’s appointment. I was armed with snacks and Elmo. But it wasn’t enough for my youngest who just wants to run. He started shrieking. My blood pressure started rising. We finished the appointment and as I buckled him in his car seat, exhausted, he softly patted my face with his still dimpled hand.

This phase is incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

Later we went to Costco. The older son stole the younger’s snack. The younger started to wail. Then the older one started touching the younger one’s facial features, labeling each one, which only added to the fury. I played referee. But when we arrived home, the two made fun out of the store boxes, chased each other, and filled the house with a soundtrack of laughter.

The days are incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

The younger son woke from his nap too early. He was cranky. While I made dinner, he whined between every chop and stir of the pan. My stress levels spiked the way they do most evenings. But then we sat down for dinner and he ate twice the mashed potatoes the rest of us consumed and asked for more. And we laughed and the tension lessened and happiness entered.

These moments are incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

One day, my children might come to me when they have little ones of their own. Maybe they’ll be spent and wonder how we made it through.

I won’t tell them to enjoy every moment, because it’s impossible. I won’t tell them how quickly it goes by and pile on the pressure. I’ll pour them a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, I will look them in their eyes and tell them the truth: these years are incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

I will tell them on the really hard days, to call me or a friend and let it out. I’ll tell them to go to their room, close the door and read a book if only for 10 minutes. I’ll tell them to hold onto their spouse the tightest after the toughest evenings. But then I will tell them this: more often than not, the days are not one or the other—they are both, in and out and over again.

So, try to recognize the sweet in this inevitability hard phase of raising little ones. Because if you look, it’s there.

Until then, I will try to remember this truth. My best parenting days are the ones when I pause, inhale deeply, and see: these years are incredibly hard and incredibly sweet.

This post originally appeared Jillian Benfield


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Jillian Benfield

Jillian Benfield is a military wife, mom of three, and one of her kids rocks an extra chromosome- also known as Down syndrome. When she’s not cruising in her minivan taking kids to different schools or doctor appointments, she’s writing about faith, marriage and parenting on her blog, Follow her on Facebook