When I had my first baby I often found myself wondering... When does it get easier? Everything seemed so overwhelming when my babies were little. The crying, the mind-numbing chores like bottle washing, and of course, the nights when they had earaches or a new tooth coming in.
I would be adding to my to-do list without even crossing anything off. Yes, I soaked in all of my baby's' firsts and appreciated the funny moments of motherhood—it's not that I wished those joyous years away. It's just that mothering can be exhausting and I wondered when my days wouldn't be quite as tiring.
And after more than a handful of years of motherhood, I just may have the answer to that question, because now I know that it does, indeed, get easier.
When my kids were younger—ages one and three specifically—I remember struggling daily. Their sibling squabbles began once my daughter could walk and talk. Plus, the monotony of motherhood started to smother me. The tedious tasks of folding the tiny onesies, putting toys back into bins, and the tuck-ins served as ingredients to the perfect hormonal storm looming inside of me.
But the worst chore was always unloading the dishwasher. In fact, I remember my own mother, a mom of four, telling me, "There were days I wanted to cry when I'd have to unload the dishwasher again." There's something about that task—the constant bending and reaching—it's just like how motherhood can feel at times, isn't it?
We bend for our beloved children, changing our life's path, or even halting our own goals completely. We bend by giving our children what they need and deserve—our constant love and devotion. But with all that bending, we're often left depleted.
And we constantly reach—to be the perfect mother, a stronger wife or better daughter. But we never quite grab a hold of who we want to be or what we need to accomplish. When our kids are little, we never catch up. The onesies stay in the dryer, the toys remain on the carpet, and yes, the dishes sit in the dishwasher.
But finally, at ages four and six, I finally don't want to cry when emptying the dishwasher. I don't want to scream as I bend and reach. Because now I know the fact that littleness is fleeting. I know that I only have a few more years of them feeling "little" before they grow into teenagers.
Simply put—I think I have found the sweet spot.
No, our days are not perfect. My kids squabble often and I still need to clean up the occasional accident. But they are finally not as exhausting. Today my kids can actually help me unload the dishwasher. My daughter likes to toss her plastic cups and plates into her bottom cabinet. And my son places the glass cups and coffee mugs up on the counter for me so I don't need to bend anymore.
And that's not all. They can articulate their feelings to me when they feel too heavy. I'm not left guessing why they're so irate. They can use the bathroom by themselves—and even wipe. My kids can get their own snacks, and even choose healthy ones from time-to-time.
And sometimes when we're lucky, the biggest perk of all happens, my small children play by themselves in the morning without waking up Mom and Dad. But still, things are far from perfect. There are days when I still lose my temper or feel so lonely in motherhood that I want to cry.
But, yes, it does get easier, moms.
The monotony of bending and reaching while emptying the dishwasher evaporates, but the memories of those belly laughs never do. You realize that you no longer need to strive to become that perfect mother. Your kids love you simply because you belong to them and they belong to you.
So try not to worry—it will get easier. Eventually, your kids will even help you bend and reach—towards whatever it is you need them to.