To the Moms Struggling to Get Through Each Day, It Gets Better

It’s no secret that raising tiny humans is extremely tiring. The early years of parenthood are filled with days that seem to never end, blurring into one another through an infinite cycle of sunrises and sunsets and catnaps and barely-strong-enough pots of coffee. Because my two children are four years-old and 17 months, I’m still very much being tossed about in that sea of exhaustion, and if you’re in this boat with me, I want to chat with you. I want to hold your hand. I want to give you the biggest hug and the strongest shot of espresso I can find.

To the mom wearing three-day-old yoga pants and struggling to see the world through her burning, sleep-starved eyeballs, while miniature versions of herself climb into her lap and yank down on her shirt demanding to nurse for the eighty billionth time today, listen to me.

I’m feeling you, sister. I’m here for you. I get you.

When this school year first started, it took each and every star in the sky aligning just right each morning for Dax, my preschooler, to agree to get ready for school. Getting dressed was a fight. Brushing his teeth was a fight. Getting socks on was a fight, and then we had the audacity to assert that shoes were the next step and – behold – a new fight.

Those huge fights were enough on their own, but they were also coupled up with the previous night, which I spent nursing my youngest son several times, allotting me a solid two and a half hours of sleep (according to my fitness tracking band, which I now refuse to wear on principle because RUDE).

And then there was dinner at the end of the day. If it wasn’t mac and cheese or pizza, it was a meltdown of epic proportions. I remember sitting in my kitchen on the verge of tears after we sent Dax to bed without eating dinner for the hundredth time thinking to myself, “My child will never eat another vegetable as long as he lives. I have failed so badly. Where did I go wrong?” Channeling Dax’s stubbornness (which, to be honest, he probably got from his mother,) I refused to relent on my unwillingness to make Dax a complete second meal every night. I shook my fists and thought to defiantly to myself, “He WILL eat what we eat or he just won’t eat!” And then much more softly, “Dear God, please don’t let him starve.”

Case, my baby, hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park, either. Ever since he was born, he’s been extremely clingy to me, refusing pacifiers and bottles and any other human on the planet. At 14 months, he was still nursing several times a night, and on really bad nights, he wouldn’t even let me put him back in his crib after each nursing. He would only stay asleep if I held him. I was all but convinced I’d never sleep more than an hour at a time again.

But sister, come closer. I have great news!

It gets better.

It really does.

Fast forward to now, just a few months after the start of the school year, and everything is different. Dax now gets dressed – head to toe, including socks and shoes! – and brushes his teeth each morning without complaining. He more or less eats (or at least tries) the dinners I prepare for him. Last night he ate all of his pesto chicken with tomatoes and asparagus (ASPARAGUS!) and therefore earned himself dessert!

And Case? Case only nurses once a night now, usually around 5am, and then goes back to sleep until about 8am. This means that if I can be disciplined enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour, I snag a solid stretch of good, uninterrupted sleep.

Monumental changes, sister, in just a matter of months.

I know that when you’re in the thick of it, being told you only need to wait “a few months” for some relief can sound like an eternity. Many of my mom friends told it to me, too, and I rolled my eyes in annoyance. But while the days are indeed long, the years are also very, very short, and one day you’ll wake up with a preschooler who can prepare his own breakfast and a toddler that happily sleeps twelve hours in his own bed each night.

And when that happens, I want you to call me so we can celebrate with a couple mimosas, instead of our usual gallon of coffee.