These are the days. 

They are days ruled by fatigue, when “tired” is a sliding scale rather than an occasional visitor. Days we forget to look in the mirror before we leave the house and can’t remember where we put the car keys or the iPhone or our sunglasses or our sanity.

These are days of uneaten peanut butter sandwiches and rejected veggie pasta bake and of the guilty 6 p.m. dash to the drive-thru for chicken nuggets because you can’t remember the last time they ate actual food.

These are days of falling asleep on the couch watching Paw Patrol long after their bed time because you forgot to change the channel. The days “Wheels on the Bus” echoes round and round your sleepless mind in the small hours for no reason other than that you sang it 463 times that day and your brain hates you.

These are the days of cold cups of coffee and interrupted conversations. Of saying “shhhhh!” to the preschooler when the baby is napping and then wishing you hadn’t, because now the moment is gone forever and you’ll never know what she was about to tell you.

These are days of wiping butts and noses and yogurt from the walls and tears and tabletops and any expectations you had of productivity for the day. These are the days of stretchy leggings and comfortable shoes and more than 10,000 steps at toddler speed, bent double, yelling, “SLOW DOWN!” and “WATCH OUT FOR THE LADY!” and “CAR!”

These are days of soft play and child-friendly restaurants and more YouTube or french fries than you could ever have imagined in your former life, when your high-minded notions of parenting were so easy to enforce because you didn’t yet have babies with other ideas.

These are days of mortal danger lurking around every corner, of tied up blind cords and locks on cupboard doors and baby-proofing the plug sockets and still never being able to relax, not even for a moment.

They are days of tears behind the bathroom door and chocolate in the walk-in wardrobe. Of feeling touched out but of so little touching. Of date nights being cancelled because of tonsillitis or ear infections or separation anxiety or because the idea of doing all the things required before you could get out of the door was so overwhelming, you didn’t book the babysitter after all.

These are the days of endless snack preparation and of finding discarded Goldfish crackers under the couch cushions and behind the bookshelf and in the car seat and crushed in the stroller. These are the days of negotiation and placation and castigation, very little contemplation and absolutely no remuneration.

These are days of a draft folder full of uncompleted emails and of paperwork piling up on the kitchen table. Days of mom buns and dry shampoo and showers in the company of a toddler. Of lost shoes and sun hats and water bottles and trains of thought.

These are the days that blend into one another. That are at once endless and fleeting; simultaneously tedious and filled with more colour and life and love and fun than any you’ve ever known before.

Because these are also the days that are filled to the brim with purpose. The days when getting up in the morning is a biological necessity.

These are days of Coco Pops at the breakfast table and discussions about super powers and fairies and best friends and bouncy castle parties on the preschool run.

They are days of jumping on beds and playing hide and seek and running through the sprinkler and yelling “CANNON BALL” as loud as your lungs will let you.

They are days of believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and that the world is good. Of believing in magic and fairy dust and love triumphing over evil. They are days of shaking out the sillies and kissing away the hurt and hugging away the fear and being the centre of their whole world. Days of spending school recitals crouched in the front row with a camera as they yell “HI MOM!” from the stage without the smallest hint of self-consciousness.

They are days of sitting on the edge of the bed to braid her hair and help her with her socks. Of turning out the light at night and then lying there for “just a few more minutes” because your presence is wanted, needed, taken utterly for granted.

They are days of the precious calm between the storms; of the toddler nestling into your neck with a thumb in her mouth after a tantrum, and sleepy trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night and a tiny arm slung carelessly across your face when you thought she was in her own bed.

They are days of inches grown measured in pencil marks on the door frame and little pairs of skinny jeans and sparkly trainers. Of toy trucks littering the sitting room floor and a stuffy toy that’s seen better days tucked under a little chin for comfort in the dark.

These are days of ice cream dripping down your chin on a hot summer’s afternoon, and bike riding and leaf crunching and snowball fights and seeing the world through their eyes. Of remembering delight and enchantment and hilarity and rapture, and all the splendid things about being a kid again.

They are days that will be gone forever in the blink of an eye. Days to survive but also to treasure, to tuck away in the heart and revisit in years to come—when one day, long from now, you’re having a quiet coffee and you see a young mother bend to reach for a wet wipe, to mop up a spilled drink or wipe hot chocolate from a little face—and you think to yourself, “Those were the days.”

Originally published on the author’s blog  

Catherine Dietrich

Catherine Dietrich is a freelance writer and mom to two girls. A former women’s magazine journalist, she now writes for various online publications as well as celebrating the ordinary moments of motherhood on her blog, Littles, Love and Sunshine. Catherine is a British South African, currently living in the Bahamas with her husband and two small daughters.