It’s my deepest, darkest fear about motherhood.
“It will get easier!”
“Just wait – it gets better!”
“You’re in the trenches right now – it will be just a memory someday.”
How many times have mothers of young kids heard those words? How many times have I said them myself, either to try to encourage myself through a particularly hard day with my four young children or to try to encourage another mother that these years of raising littles really are some of the hardest times in our lives?
But despite how many times I’ve been reassured that if I can make it through these sleepless years, filled with sicknesses and potty training and tantrums and ridiculous breakdowns over the wrong cup at the dinner table, I still have one big question weighing on my mind:
What if it doesn’t get better?
It’s my deepest, darkest fear about motherhood – that it will never actually get any easier.
I’m guessing I’m not the only mother who has worried and wondered about this, so I think it’s definitely time we talk about it. If you ask mothers who have gone through the “trenches” of having little kids, you’ll get different answers. Some swear that their lives now, with kids who can wipe their own butts and tie their own shoes and fix their own breakfasts in the morning, are pure bliss, the memories of delirious sleep deprivation but a distant memory. Others will tell you that while yes, independent butt wiping and kids who sleep through the night are always appreciated, the challenges of motherhood only change, but they never actually get any easier.
And that’s honestly what I’m afraid of.
Because right now, I may feel like I’ll lose my mind if I have to wipe one more snotty nose or change one more diaper or read one more story or carry one more screaming toddler through a grocery store, but I also know that those are my biggest problems I have.
Our oldest child is eight and already, I can see that the challenges of motherhood are not getting any easier. In some ways, yes, absolutely, but in other ways, I am even more exhausted than I was with all toddlers. When my daughter comes home crying from school with hurt feelings or when she doesn’t want to talk to me about something that’s bothering her or when she looks me in the eye and asks if Santa is real, I know that I can no longer simply cuddle her and give her a kiss to make everything all better. And that breaks my heart.
So no, mamas in the trenches, I’m not going to say that our lives are going to get permanently easier once our kids reach some magical age. Because the truth is, we all have different children with different challenges and different abilities. Some children may never have verbal skills, some children may never be fully independent in the bathroom, and some children may always need us in some capacity.
But those things are not necessarily bad or scary.
I have worried about what it is to come in my motherhood journey primarily because I’m scared and I don’t know what to expect to next. It’s the same way I felt when I first became a mother – I was so scared that I wouldn’t be a good enough mother or that my baby wouldn’t love me or I wouldn’t know how to take care of a baby. Looking back, my fears just make me laugh because love is, and always has been, more than enough. And each stage of parenting has felt like exactly where I needed to be.
So when I’m feeling scared that motherhood won’t get any easier, I just have to remember: it probably won’t. There are still going to be hard parts and challenges but you know what? That also means there are going to even greater benefits. I might have to work extra hard to talk with my daughter about navigating the schoolyard or managing her emotions when someone hurts her feelings, but the upside is that I also have this really cool little girl to hang out with and watch grow. Motherhood may not “easier” as time goes on, but we are still going to rock the heck out of it, because that’s just what we do as moms.
And sleeping through the night again will certainly not hurt. Like, at all.