I have five children ranging in ages from four to twelve years old. That means there was a time, not so long ago, that I had a baby, a toddler, a four year old, a six year old, and an eight year old. Life at that time could be quite challenging. Mommying in that season left me an exhausted mombie charged with caring for five wee ones when I barely had enough energy to make it to the coffee pot each morning.
To be sure there were many bursts of joy and sunshine in that season of mothering. Nothing beats a bouquet of weeds from a four year old. A six year old holding the baby while you shower isn’t just a necessity, it’s adorable. The high pitched giggles over silly, little things. The slobbery baby kisses. The toddler who curls up in your lap for a story. All of it is a precious and special and tender blessing.
During that season of life, Mama never got to clock out. Yes, of course, that is the general gist of motherhood. You sort of understand when you sign up that it’s a life-long, enduring commitment to your children. In theory you affirm the beautiful roles and responsibilities of motherhood. In the trenches, though? Knee deep in dirty diapers, exhausted because the toddler’s been working on molars for two weeks, and emotionally fragile because your four year old refuses to button jeans or wear socks because of sensory issues? Motherhood starts to feel like punishment. Those little lives depend on you for everything. Some days I found that extremely rewarding. Other days I sat in a locked bathroom, disappointed in myself and overwhelmed by the never-ending-ness of motherhood demands.
That feeling of “this is never going to end” did eventually subside. It took a while for me to notice and appreciate. I remember when it happened. I was chatting with another mom whose several children were a few years younger than mine. This sweet mama was not complaining. Even so, I recognized the fatigue and frazzle in her voice. And then it hit me: I’m not in that crazy season anymore!
It was then that I understood I had made it to the sweet spot of motherhood. As I mentioned, my kids are between four and twelve right now. That means no more diapers, but it also means no battles over make-up and smart phones yet. It means that it is rare that someone wakes up in the middle of the night, but also that I’m not yet laying awake hoping my teenager makes it home safely by curfew. It means that all my kids are now capable of playing board games (and following the rules) with dad and me, but no one’s old enough to think that’s lame. They no longer need me for every little thing. They help each other get breakfast while I sleep in, for heaven’s sake! Sweet spot, indeed!
I’m not fool enough to believe this happy season will last. I’ve heard from moms a step or two ahead of me that chances are things will get harder. I’m going to have at least one teenager for the next 15 years, sometimes as many as FOUR AT THE SAME TIME (pray for me!)! I think knowing that it may get harder is one reason this season right now is so sweet. I’m going to indulge in this season, capturing moments and memories to revisit in the tough times.
I’m also going to take what I’ve learned and apply it to the future:
Motherhood is full of hard times. But there will be sweet spots and when we get to them, they will be d e l i c i o u s.