Is This The Good Life? Why You Should Enjoy (But Not Too Much) Having Little Ones

045 I was really not a good new mom.

A friend of mine had her first baby in the hospital room next to me, the day after I had my first baby. It was fun. And also, a little weird…we watched her contractions intensify on the hospital monitor system as she was in labor! We experienced a lot of “firsts” together, obviously.

I remember seeing her when the boys were a few weeks old. She was so happy. I just remember her gushing and “ooo”-ing, smiling away these sleepless nights that are “just for a season.”

A season?!?!? If we survive it!!! I thought she was a) crazy and b) awesome.

Even the second time around, when Ty, my second-born, was fresh and new from the hospital, I didn’t get it. He was doing all those awful things newborns do…falling asleep eating, never eating at the right times, just wanting to be carried all day long, being completely adorable and alert ONLY at 2:30 am, etc., etc.

My mom came over one afternoon to help. I was in my haven’t-brushed-my-teeth, wearing-my-pajamas-and-it’s-almost-dinner, sleepless and incoherent new mommy stupor stage. (Please tell me someone else has that stage.)

Anyway, my mom looked really cute. Her makeup was done, she’d just had a haircut, and she was wearing a trendy new outfit. I asked what she was all dressed up for.

“Oh, Dad and I are just going to grab a bite to eat tonight, that’s all.”

I remember shaking my head and saying with half smile, “Must be nice, living the good life…”

I will never forget how she looked – not at me, but around the room. At my kids. At the mess.

“No, Jessie. This is living the good life.” And she smiled, like she was remembering something wonderful.

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I get it, Mom.

I get it.

I’m so, so sorry that it has taken me 1,312 days of motherhood (and a few rounds of counseling, and multiple breakdowns, and infinite episodes of Netflix reruns to deal with my stress level)…

But I get it – I’m living the good life.

I know I have a horrible track record of making things around here sound like some sort of a domestic purgatory (here, and here, and here, and, oh you get the point.) But really, motherhood is so wonderful I can’t even put it into words without sort of choking up.

  • Ty tells me, “You’re beautiful, Mommy.” (He always tells Daddy he’s “a stud,” if that gives you any hints where he’s learned it.)
  • He asks to sing Jesus Loves Me, he gives us kisses, and his toes are so perfectly chubby. And is there anything more wonderful than rocking a cuddly little one to sleep?
  • Sam is three, and brilliant. No, really. He gets so excited about oatmeal and science experiments and throwing a football and doing it “all! by! MY! SELF!…”
  • He thanks me for making him delicious meals. He doesn’t even care that he can’t eat cheese or pizza or goldfish and all his meals are different.
  • He thinks I’m the smartest, most athletic, most creative and funny mom he could ever have.

All these things look so generic on paper, but you know that if you are the mommy, they’re wonderful.

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I get a catch in my throat thinking about days where my little ones aren’t bumbling around under my feet, when they aren’t calling for me when they’re hurt, when they make their own meals and tie their own shoes and (sob) have their own families.

This isn’t the end, though. You know me…there’s always a lesson. Lessons are my way of making me feel better about everything I don’t like or can’t understand. That’s healthy, right?

Lesson one is a story.

Once when I was a little girl (ten or so), I was trying to fall asleep, thinking about the things you think about when you’re trying to fall asleep, when I realized something. I had figured out how to make an air conditioner! Excitedly, I sprinted out of bed to tell my mom what I’d discovered.

Mom! Guess what! I know how they make an air conditioner! If you take two of those things that you cool off cookies on, and you smush up some ice cubes in between them, and then hold that in front of a little fan, then it’s like an air conditioner! Isn’t that amazing, Mom??!

I remember thinking it so odd that Mom (who was sitting there alone, reading a magazine, drinking some tea) looked…almost…tired? Could it be tired? That was weird.

But she listened. She smiled. She was impressed.

I laugh so hard at that story right now. I know exactly what she felt like, drinking her tea and putting her feet up for the first time all day, listening to someone re-invent an air conditioner. I hope she had a good, happy laugh when I went scampering back to bed.

Yesterday, Sam called me up to show me he’d made his laundry basket like a car. Today, he had turned his underwear inside out.

I hope that I was excited as my mom learning about air conditioners.

I hope that Sam knows I think these days are wonderful.

See here’s the thing about motherhood. It’s not wonderful like your wedding day, or Ruth’s Chris with your husband, or laying on a towel on the beach in June.

It’s messier than that.

It pokes its cute snotty-faced smile out when you’re not fully awake yet at 5:46 am, or trying to untangle a slinky, or scraping toothpaste off your ratty college yoga pants, or in the middle of making pizza dough, or paying your cable bill.

So the trick about it is to see those moments and enjoy when they come.

Because here’s the second lesson… It doesn’t last. I am just so, so sad here that this stage will be over so soon. Maybe for you it is almost over, or it is over. Maybe you’re not yet a mom, or won’t ever be one.

The answer is the same for us all. {And forgive me for going philosophical for a second…}

This isn’t our home. There’s more than what’s real right now.

And again, I quote C.S. Lewis, that wise old bachelor from half a world and half a century ago.

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling…of that something which you were born desiring, and which…night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ ” {C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain}

I am grateful that I don’t have to cling desperately to the things I love – being a mom, my wonderful family…I’m grateful that all these things I think I was made for become real and forever in heaven, and never grow old.

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines…”

~C.S. Lewis (Til We Have Faces)

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5 thoughts on “Is This The Good Life? Why You Should Enjoy (But Not Too Much) Having Little Ones

  1. Hello I am visiting from Fellowship Friday. This post is amazing. I am like you in several ways I have felt sorry for myself when I could not do things others are doing because I am a stay at home Mom. But being with my kids daily and seeing the wonderful moments is the good life. I may not be able to go out with friends very often or go on dates with my husband but I get to do the best thing. I get to watch my four grow into what God created them to be. I get to be a part of that. Isn’t that amazing!!! I am your newest follower.
    Love
    Patricia
    http://www.thettdiaries.com

  2. I loved this post so much. It’s so hard at this age to remember but I KNOW it’s true. I don’t feel like I’m a very good toddler mom but I’m trying to enjoy the moments as best as I can. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!!!

  3. I just randomly decided to read this and am so glad I did! I love how motherhood transforms our thinking moment by moment. When your mom said, “No Jessie. This is the good life” I teared up. So true. We so often see it as a burden, a hurdle and even subconsciously or not, wish things away that are ‘messy’ . When I see my mom, with stars in her eyes, remembering when we were all little, it’s another reminder that I’ll be the same way one day. I need to somehow, in some way think with the mind of a empty-nester and realize 1. How fast the time really does go by and just slow down, and 2. How inconveniences are just part of the journey. Thanks for your sweet words of advice and your candidness.

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