The Days Are Long
“The days are long, but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin
This is what parents of grown children know – any parent who has endured childbirth, toddlerhood, and endless years of carefully observing our children eventually realizes that after they are grown, all that chaos is merely a memory.
I remember the long days. Like you, I thought they might never end. I searched for myself amongst the scattered Cheerios and smeared yogurt clinging to freshly washed hair. I quit my job to stay at home, then went back to relieve the stress of a one income family. I shelved my books, my writing, and my self.
In the long,sticky, sweaty, stinky days, I lost it – I lost myself.
And then the teenage years hit, and I wondered what happened to the days that never ended, to the yards of toilet paper rolling down the hall, to the round cheeks and chubby fingers that used to gaze at me like I was the Queen of the Universe.
I wondered where I went; how those long days could be replaced by even longer ones when I struggle to redefine myself, to fit into a new skin – one where no one is reaching for our hand, or asking for our help. A day when the wonders of discovery are shared on Snapchat rather than with us, and filling myself up seemed inconceivable.
So I speak to you from this place, knowing now that every word of wisdom I rejected was true. That the ordinary moments are extraordinary, and that just when you think you can’t bear those long days, you really can – here’s how:
Be gentle with yourself.
- Be positive with your self talk. You have done amazing things before, and you are doing them right now. Your hair may not look pretty, and you might be a bit rumpled and fluffy. So what? Moms are astounding humans. Remind yourself of how breathtaking you really are.
- Blast away the need for perfection. There is always someone, somewhere, who would rather spend their energy making themselves feel better by making you feel bad. When I nursed my daughter at 3am, Martha Stewart was the only show on TV. Looking back, watching her did nothing for my positive self image!
- Write sticky notes for your mirror. There will be days when you feel like the only one on your team is you. So what? Remind yourself of your stunning abilities – make yourself smile.
- Give yourself a break. Stop, drop and breathe. Ten minutes of your baby in their bouncy chair so you can wash your face, grab a coffee and read a magazine will be just what you need to make it through the day.
- Find a special place you can go alone. When I had hit overwhelm, I loved to sneak to a used book store just a few blocks away. Just browsing the titles made me slow down and breathe.
Take baby steps.
- Stop comparing yourself to anyone – and everyone. Social media regularly showcases what people WANT you to see. Dirty kitchen floors, bad haircuts and burnt dinners don’t make it on Facebook. Not everyone drives a new car or gets to stay at home with their kids. Remember, everyone has their own version of ‘reality tv’ and it’s not always Pinterest-worthy.
- Do one thing at a time. Stop multi-tasking. Enjoy feeling centered for just a split- second while your hands are in the dishwater or you’re prone on the floor picking up Legos. You’ll get more done that way, and enjoy it a whole lot more.
Know that everything will be O.K.
- Remember, no teenager wears diapers or drinks from a bottle or breast. They will grow out of it…and probably into something equally worrisome or scary.
- If they fall down, pick them up. If they cry, hold them. If they ask you ‘Why?’, answer them. If they won’t eat, don’t worry. If they won’t sleep, crawl in next to them. If they hug you, hug them tighter.
Moms, fill your bucket with these wonderful, exhilarating, exhausting, precious moments. These days won’t last – and you’ll wish they did.
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This post was written by Jennifer Wolfe exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.