My son had colic as a newborn.

He wasn’t “fussy,” there wasn’t a “witching hour,” he simply hated life outside the womb and was determined to scream so loud the whole world knew it.

And, along with a recommendation for Gas-X drops, all his pediatrician could say was, “This too shall pass.”

She was right. I guess. Though I joke it was like a kidney stone, it did in fact pass.

And on its heels came a baby who refused to eat, a toddler with a massive temper and a 2-year-old so mischievous he made Curious George himself looked tame.

Through the doctors’ appointments, sleepless nights, massive meltdowns and catastrophic messes I’d tell myself, “This too shall pass.”

And again, like a kidney stone, it did.

Then came preschool.
And there went my patience.
And more than a few nannies, too.

Inspired by 15 other kids and constant questions, my son had a wealth of knowledge. Knowledge of words he shouldn’t say, behaviors he shouldn’t emulate, and very creative ways to find my last nerve.

And again, I muttered, “This too shall pass.”

Then came the season everything changed.

And I realized these stages I’d been wishing away were made up of precious days I could never get back. And that didn’t make them easier, but it gave me an appreciation for them.

And then there was this “ah ha” moment when I realized that though it evolved, motherhood didn’t ever get easier.

That sounds depressing, but it wasn’t.
It was freeing. The pressure was gone.

I stopped waiting for things to change.
And started seeing beauty in what was around me.

A sink full of dishes reminded me my kids were fed. A living room of LEGO landmines reminded me just how creative my boy could be, and incessant questions about everything assured me his mind was sound.

And looking back, I laugh.

I laugh at all the days I didn’t know I could get through, because what I didn’t know was they were strengthening me for the days ahead.

It turns out that every stage you’re lucky enough to experience prepares you for the next. And near as I can tell, one isn’t easier than the other, they’re all just different. The stressors, the worries, and the rewards.

But they’re worth it.

The easy days, the hard days, the good ones and the bad.

Because they remind us what we’re capable of and give us glimpses of who are babies can become.

And it wasn’t until I stopped saying “this too shall pass” that I started enjoying motherhood.

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Cara Arnold

I’m a mama to 3 whose learning to balance parenthood and chronic illness at the hands of autoimmune encephalitis. Some days I’m a soccer mom, carpooling like a boss; other days I’m a relentless advocate, taking on doctors and insurance companies alike. But, if you’re looking for consistency every day I’m a hot mess. My life is a puzzle that’s still not together. I used to think pieces were missing. But it's all finally fitting together. It’s not what I envisioned, and some days I mourn that; but it’s mine. And knowing how fast that can change I try to appreciate every moment of it.