My Mom, wise Momma of six, used to tell me on the days when I would call in tears to report that I’d already lost it with my kids ten times before 9:00 in the morning: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
I took great comfort in these words, because it helped me to realize how temporary my situation was in the moment. It validated the intensity of the situation I found myself in as a young mother, but remained incredibly hopeful. Another phrase you might have heard that means something close would be: “This too shall pass.”
I like my Mom’s words more because they encouraged me to recognize how all of it is temporary.
Thankfully, the dirty diapers end! The midnight wakings are reduced to the occasional nightmare or fever spike, not the round-the-clock feedings or just because they can’t figure out day from night. The not-knowing how to handle a newborn is finally replaced with a hard-won confidence that can only come from doing the work.
But, it’s also a reminder that all of the good stuff from the newborn stage comes to an end as well. The contortionists stretching that newborns do when they first get up from a nap – it goes away. The tucked under your chin snuggle eventually stops because they just can’t fit anymore. The sweet smell of milk on your baby’s breath eventually gets mixed in with the smell of strained carrots and peas. And my personal favorite, the “knuckle dimples,” fade away as they grow big kid hands.
I think that understanding the temporary nature of the newborn period explains why so many parents who go on to have subsequent children seem to be so much more mellow when it comes to having their kids sleep in their own beds, or get them potty-trained at an early age. They have been “taught” by their first-borns that it’s all temporary – all of it. So they might choose to linger a little bit longer than first-timers do in this newborn stage.
Because you know what? My Mom was right. There are still days where I think to myself, “When will it end? When will this day come to a close so I can lie down and recover from the craziness that is my family today?”
But then I sneak a peek at my kids, and realize that even those days are but a blip of time. My “babies” are no longer babies and they haven’t been for a very long time.
When you’re in the thick of it and feeling like all you’re getting from this newborn stage is the hard stuff, it can be challenging to not wish it all away as fast as possible. I get that. But as quickly as the hard stuff goes, so do the sweetest moments of this stage.
And what I can tell you for sure is that you don’t get those moments back. Not unless you are willing to live through the hard stuff again with another newborn.
In my opinion, a small price to pay – because it’s all temporary anyway, right?
Have you already noticed how some of your baby’s sweet and adorable behaviors have stopped? Does that thought hearten you that the really challenging moments of this newborn stage will be ending soon? Does the thought of this stage being temporary ring true for you, or do you have a hard time believing it?