Someday I know I’ll be that lady in the grocery store, you know the one, the one who stops young mothers or fathers with toddlers in the little front seat cart seat with kids hanging off the end of the cart and the side of the cart with a baby strapped to their chests, the cart filled with bags of apples and two 4L of milk and three dozen eggs and cereal. I’ll stop these young people and I’ll say that their children are beautiful and then I’ll say things like enjoy it, it goes so fast.
Because it does. I know that even now. I know that because this nine-year-old who has grown almost as tall as me was so recently laying in my lap – wasn’t that just yesterday? – while I kissed the corners of her dimpled baby elbows and cried with disbelief at how much I loved her. I know that because I slept with a small baby boy up against my body for what felt like forever and now he’s almost the length of a twin bed with a sign posted on his door to “PLEASE KNOCK THERE IS A STAR WARS BOY IN HERE BEWARE.” I know that because I have a four-and-a-half-year-old who can’t stop won’t stop talking and dancing and running through life and yet in my head she is still the curly-haired baby of the family. And now the new little baby I gave birth to a second ago is crawling and walking around while hanging onto the furniture and babbling her first words on the brink of being a year old and wow blink blink blink they’re all such people.
It goes so fast. It’s true. And it goes slowly, too.
Those future-mothers-and-fathers will probably do what I do when I meet those ladies at the park and the grocery store and the bank, they will nod and smile through their exhaustion and say, yes, I know out of kindness and respect while something inside them is thinking but, lady, it’s also so tiring and kind of hard sometimes.
I already feel a little far away from the things that once took over my whole life, I remember it as if it were a life I lived once upon a time but I’ve lost touch with that person – remember when I was pregnant with our third and I had two little babies under four and I wrote that first book? I say sometimes. That was nuts.
We had our first three tinies in four years and then four years after that we added one more baby to the mix right at the time when my writing began to reach more people and my husband’s career also became more demanding and we have never been so happy and so tired and so everything all at once. We both work and we keep this house and we are raising children to hopefully love God and to love people, and we all try to do a bit of good in the world right now, too.
Some nights, I get into bed and I think I have never been more tired and I will never be this tired ever again. I say things to my husband like I wish I could go back in time to smack my own self for every time I ever said that I was tired or busy before this time. He’s usually asleep already.
Other nights, I get into bed and say this is the best and I love every second of it and our tinies are amazing and gracious, I’m just so thankful. He’s usually asleep already.
Because this season of life is wonderful and it’s hard, too.
It is. I hope I remember that but I probably won’t so I thought I’d write it down for that someday.
This season of life with work and tinies and community is full and precious and wonderful and magical, absolutely. It’s exhausting and self-denying and relentless, too.
It’s so much laundry and big grocery bills and grimy handprints on the walls and wondering how in the world you’re going to pay for braces. It’s laughing until your face aches and feeling genuinely happy that your kids get the joke. It’s kissing every single birthmark on their skin and tickling their backs until they fade into sleep and then it’s also going to hide in the washroom because you just want two seconds without someone touching you. It’s running your hands through their hair at bedtime prayers and it’s also yelling at them all that everyone needs to stop yelling all the time. It’s loving what you do and yet feeling like you don’t have time to do it as well as you would like. It’s feeling powerful and alive and purposeful while also feeling like you can’t believe you have to sweep these floors AGAIN.
These are the days we’ll miss and these are the days that also feel like they won’t ever end. It can be both at the same time, I know that now. We get to hold the wonder and sleepiness, the boring and the magical at the same time, the work and the delight, the mundane repetition and the ferocious love altogether, it’s not one or the other.
I have never been so tired in my life. (There. Out loud. I said it.) I have also never been so happy or fulfilled. I have never juggled so much responsibility and learned so deeply what it means to be selfless. Such things are transformative if we allow them to be.
The Right Now is so beautiful, it makes me dizzy with gratitude and it also makes me want a nap.
So I hope someday that I will remember this complexity, too, when I get soppy over a cartful of someone else’s babies in the grocery store. I hope I’ll remember that when I say to that young mother that it goes so fast, that it’s true and also not true, it’s glorious and it’s difficult. And then I’ll tell her that I think she’s doing a great job, she’ll really see that someday.