This, Too, Shall Pass
My friend, Angela, has three little boys. Her oldest is in kindergarten and her youngest is one. Her middle boy has Down’s Syndrome and is extremely high maintenance. Angela, though, is wonderful and handles all of the challenges in her life with such grace that she inspires even the most weary of moms around her. She blogs with humor and amazing depth at her blog My Three Sons.
The other day, though, she had a status on Facebook that said:
“Some days I’m just not cut out to be a mom. I am so tired of spoon-feeding two children, and I’m sick of all the laundry and dishes. Oh, and I’m tired.”
When I was pregnant with Johnathan, Scott still nursed every 3 hours. Because he was a preemie, and was barely over the age of one, the pediatrician told us not to discourage the nursing – he needed the milk calories to help him catch up with weight gain. So that meant nursing every three hours, around the clock. Midnight, three in the morning, six in the morning, nine in the morning…it was this never ending cycle for about eighteen months.
He also never napped. Ever. He would snatch 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there – never enough time for me to even wind down enough to rest.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I had to quit breastfeeding him, but because the doctor wanted him to have the milk calories, we weaned him to a bottle. He woke up twice every night — about 1AM and about 4AM — for a bottle.
Consequently, when Johnathan was born, I was exhausted.
Johnathan was an extremely needy child. He cried if he wasn’t being held. He didn’t sleep at night at all if he wasn’t lying next to me in the bed. He wasn’t happy unless Gregg or I was holding him. Since we’re not really attachment parenting parents, he was a miserable child, too. I held him as much as I could, but I had two other children. I wore him in the ring sling often, but not all day long. I only let him sleep with me about once every two weeks just so I could get some sleep. I was desperately trying to train him away from this neediness, but it never worked.
Through this, Gregg was gone all week and home on the weekends during my pregnancy and until Jeb was about 10 months old. After that, Gregg was gone to Afghanistan and only home once or twice a year.
For Jeb’s first year, I had Scott waking up twice a night for a bottle, and had Johnathan waking up every hour or two hours all night long. I was absolutely and completely exhausted. I didn’t know someone could be as exhausted as me and still function. I have big chunks of memory loss about that year, too. Gregg recently referenced Kaylee’s piano lessons during that time, and I couldn’t remember that she’d even had them until she said the name of the teacher and I remembered writing checks.
There were times I didn’t think it would ever end.
Once Scott was 3 and potty trained, he would stay awake very late (sometimes as late as 1AM), but started sleeping through the night. Jeb woke up about once a night.
Once I weaned Jeb, he quit waking up most of the time – until he potty trained. Then, for about 6 months, he woke up at 2AM, on the dot, to go to the bathroom.
For the first time since Scott was born (5 years ago), both boys are sleeping through the night about three nights a week. I’ll wake up and realize that I’ve gotten six or seven straight hours of sleep and am amazed by it. I honestly didn’t know if I would make it through the exhaustion, but I did. There were days I would sit in the rocking chair, holding one or both of the boys, with exhausted tears streaming out of my eyes, and say over and over again, like a mantra, “This, too shall pass. This, too, shall pass.”
Friday night, Scott woke up about 1AM, Jeb woke up about 3AM, the cat woke me catterwalling to go outside about 3:30AM, and Scott woke up about 4AM. I was having flashbacks to three years ago. Saturday was just a barely-make-it-through-the-day kind of day.
And I thought, again, this, too shall pass. There will come a time when they wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and they won’t wake me to tell me; they won’t need me to tuck them back in.
Thinking back to those years, the memories that surface are only the joyful ones that have planted themselves in this mama’s heart. Even now, just a few months shy of the constant exhaustion, I barely remember what it was like.
So, to all of my friends out there who are just exhausted, done in, tired of laundry and being a mom to small babies – just remember, this, too shall pass. Six months from now will be different, and six months from that will be different again. You will make it.
And one day, you might even miss this age, this time of your life.
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