Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sometimes It Takes A Storm To Clear The Air*

When people remind parents of toddlers that these crazy, messy days won't last, I think it's usually spoken as a threat. As in, Don't take these special times for granted, young 'un. And yes, I agree: there will come a day when I wake up and think, where are my babies? Why are they driving off to college, when I'd rather they were throwing temper tantrums on the kitchen floor for not being allowed to dig their little unsupervised fists into the box of Goldfish?

But right now, on THIS day, I take that reminder as a promise: THESE DAYS WON'T LAST. YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT. HANG IN THERE! What seems like a loud, long tunnel, echoing the sounds of toddler screams and preschooler meltdowns and reflecting in dark puddles the face of a mama near the breaking point of her patience, is really a short road.

It's a path.

It leads somewhere else. It may be shadowed or muddy at times, but that only serves to make it seem longer than it really is.

It won't last.

Our morning was terrible yesterday. There were refusals of breakfast, followed by screaming fits when it became known that NO more breakfast would be offered. There was a little girl sent back to bed at 9 AM, because she must have needed more sleep -- sleep she refused to have. There was a playful toddler who just wanted to go bye-bye, (and a mama who did too, for that matter) and wore out her creative energy too early. There were tantrums by that toddler when mama couldn't pay enough attention to her because of the screaming preschooler. There was food thrown on the floor at lunch time, which is a perfectly normal occurrence, but on this day, it was maddening.

Every time I turned around, it seemed like I was dragging air into my lungs to fill them with patience. To fill them with understanding. To fill them with resolve. And then when the air came whooshing back out, I only felt deflated, not sustained.

There were good moments today. My sweet baby girl, after putting her summer sandals on the wrong feet, walked cattywompus down the hall, while I giggled at her uncoordinated steps. But that was only after she'd fallen backwards off the coffee table which she'd decided would be the perfect perch from which to put on the shoes in the first place.

Afternoon naps were short for the toddler, nonexistent for the preschooler. I walked on eggshells for too long in the afternoon, hoping to avoid any more upsets, until I realized: maybe this day was an answer to my prayers? I've been so worried about leaving my precious girls, that maybe it took an awful day for me to actually say, I need a vacation.

Which I will have, very soon.

After that realization, the air filling my lungs did calm me down. A few more cry-fests over an ill-shared toy, a few more time-outs, and a few more talk-it-throughs, and the day was done. Early bedtimes were decided upon to compensate for the grumpiness of the sleepy girls, and I was filled with peace.

I held the evening close. Calming tired girls against my chest -- sweating from the warm, but too early for air-conditioning day -- and repeating to myself while I sniffed their clean hair and patted their tiny backs: These days won't last.

These days won't last. And I feel free to interpret that with either a promising or bittersweet overtone, as the day -- or even the moment -- requires.

*The inspiration for the title is taken from one of the books I'll be posting about for my book swap on Thursday. Come back and see which one!


  1. What a lovely post. I agree completely with everything you mentioned. Yesterday my 4 year old son threw up in the car and my 2 year old daughter later had a massive tantrum. She was jealous that her brother was getting extra attention as he was ill. However, like you, I will still cherish these moments as I know that time passes all too quickly.

    Sigh of contentment and much love,

    Holly (3 Sisters, 365)

  2. I'm smiling over this one. Not at your pain, but at how universal this is. Many days I just want to hold onto and savor the sweetness of this little life (soon to be two lives), but oh my are there days when night time can't come soon enough, when rest for the weary seems nonexistent.

  3. Oh I love this post! Everyone is always ordering young mothers to cherish this while it lasts, it goes by so quickly, etc, and sometimes? It is HARD to cherish! Probably giving yourself permission to look forward to some rest is exactly what you need to be ABLE to cherish.

  4. You're right, it depends on the day... "Is that a threat, or a promise?"- it's a fact, that's for sure. My one and only baby is 11, and I love it! I've loved every stage of her life, only when I see toddlers, I go all mushy inside from the tiny fingers, misspoken words, and the little curl. Ugh.

  5. Someone recently told me that it gets easier as they get older... to enjoy these days but to know that different ones are coming and they'll be just as good but in different ways.

  6. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Generally of course, I linger over each and every sweet moment with my girls and want to cling to them, but sometimes...well, sometimes I feel like they're growing up SO SLOWLY and that we'll never be out of the difficult, demanding, crazy toddler/preschooler years. I love them so much and I know one day I'll look back and all this with longing, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only mom who sometimes thinks the "they grow up quickly" phrase was meant to be like a reassuring promise! If a great mom like you feels that ways sometimes, I must not be too bad.

    Thanks you, as always, for your honesty and your insight. Have fun on your trip!

  7. Love the post. And for me, it was ALWAYS a promise that I clung to at times. Especially when it was obvious to me why gerbils eat their young.

  8. I feel your pain...especially on days when Brian is away overnight. The wheels always seem to fall off when he's away. Molly is a great baby but I know what I'm in store for once she can talk back to me:)
    By the way, Emily tagged me in a post where I have to list my 5 favorite Italian words. I have to tag someone else to keep it going-do you mind if I tag you?

  9. Oh Sarah! This was a beautifully written post! I could just see and hear your day as it unfolded. Oh, and the two ways you can take that sentence-- I, too, vow to use it interchangeably as the day or
    moment detemines the situation. It's so paradoxal, isn't it. While we're praying just to get through these hates days we're also praying these precious days last.
    Lovely, wonderful post!!


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