The kids are finally sleeping, snuggled securely in their nice warm beds. It's been a long morning, full of toddlers tantrums and spilled milk, but on the whole it was one of our better days.
No one's diapers leaked, nothing was broken, and no one locked me out of the house.
And still, I'm glad the kids are quietly sleeping. Even our good days are often long and loud and slightly chaotic.
You know I'm often told by veteran moms whose kids are happily grown and gone that one day I'm going to miss this. They tell me that these little years are over too quickly, and that I need to savor them and enjoy every moment.
I usually smile and appreciate the advice born from a heart of love. However, the beauty of hindsight is that we often see more clearly and forget most of the details.
No one enjoys every moment of motherhood. If you do, you're some sort of saint. A crazy-to-goodness saint.
I highly doubt those veteran moms enjoyed 3 a.m. crying fits and middle of the night feedings. Who wants to remember the endless string of dirty diapers, spit up stained clothes, and gold fish ground into the carpet?
They fondly remember reading to their little ones, but conveniently forgetting that "Mr. Brown Can Moo" is only cute the first 1,256 times.
They forget that plastic hammers make terrible toys, and plastic dinosaurs are most deadly when stumbled upon in the middle of the night. And what about that terrible sound toys make when their batteries have finally had enough? The cute songs turn into a funeral dirge, the sound of a slow, painful death by toddler.
Motherhood is full of long and boring days when everyone is crying and everything is sticky.
We do young mothers a disservice when we smile at their lives and gloss over the those hard moments and real frustrations with platitudes that amount to "just be happy, your kids are so cute, your life is beautiful!"
And yet, we all know there is some truth to this sage advice. One day I will miss this, at least parts of it. Life with little ones is completely fun and wonderful while it is demanding and sometimes overwhelming. For every sweet moment there is a smelly one, and that's just part of the job. As moms we just have to learn to find joy in those sweet, happy moments, and persevere through the unpleasant ones.
So one day when I'm that mom giving advice to a young mother, this is what I'll say (more or less):
I know there are days when you wonder how in the world you will ever survive the mess. You love your kids to the moon and back, but sometimes it's hard to remember when your toddler is screaming at the top of their lungs or your newborn just wont go to sleep. But just keep going. Keep laughing, keep playing, keep dancing around the living room and making fun memories. One day you are going to look back on this time in your life and laugh because you made it! And you'll be glad for each one of those sweet moments you treasured in your heart. The baby giggles and toddler kisses and that little voice asking for "one more book", those are the precious gifts of these little years. Enjoy the good things and press on through the bad. Your kids are growing up before your eyes, and this won't last forever. I promise.