Yeah you, with the whiney, “poor me, I’m so tired and don’t get to poop by myself” attitude.
You, who dreams of the day your kids can all buckle their own seatbelts, sleep through the night, and eat their food without 75% of it ending up in their lap/floor/hair/down their diaper.
Yeah you, with the 1 or 2, or maybe even 3 or 4 young kids. You, who’s somewhere in your late twenties/early thirties and feels like this has got to be, hands down, the hardest stage of life.
I have something to tell you.
These days are hard.
You know it. I know it.
And I know you often think back to the “good ol’ days.”
There was “sweet sixteen,” for example. You were young. You could eat whatever you wanted. You could pull yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn after staying up way too late, throw on a little mascara, and head into school, looking like a million, dark-circle-free bucks. You could jump in your car and meet your friend at the movies on a Saturday afternoon on a whim, and worry about your homework later. You could forget to do your homework altogether, and life still went on.
Those were the days.
But, guess what. Back then, if someone would have asked you, do you know what you would have said?
“These days are hard.”
Yes, it’s true! Don’t believe me?
Lest I remind you that those “wonderfully carefree years” in high school didn’t actually always feel all that carefree. If I remember correctly, I’m pretty sure you were actually a hot mess back then. You didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life but you were constantly asked to decide. You spent day after day, agonizing and overanalyzing. Were you good enough? Pretty enough? Athletic enough? Popular enough? Did people like you? Did YOU like you? Who WAS “you,” anyway? Oh, and then there were the relationships. The people you liked who didn’t like you back. The dating and the overanalyzing of every note, text, phone call, or lack thereof. There was the heartbreak. Maybe even multiple heartbreaks. And you truly felt like you may never be able to put the pieces back together again. It was real, and painful. Yes, you were young and free of so many of the responsibilities you hold now, but life was not all late-night Taco Bell runs and Friday night football games. Nope. You were trying desperately to find yourself without any real idea of how the world outside those high school walls would shape you, or of what would transpire in the years to come. And that unknown of the future, that was enough to make those years hard.
And then there was college.
Man, those were the days, weren’t they?
You were finally all on your own, with no one but yourself to worry about. The world was yours. You got to live with your friends, sleep in late on the weekends (and maybe even during the week if you could plan your schedule right), and make all your own rules. You could study science, or history, or change your mind halfway through. You were of age to do just about anything, except renting a car, and your only real job was to pursue your passions.
You were finally “free!”
Or, were you?
Because I happen to remember a girl like you lamenting to her roommates. I think you know what she was saying…
“These days are hard.”
If you think back to ALL of college, I’m pretty sure there was more than just staying up late watching One Tree Hill or Grey’s with your roomies and sipping coffee in the courtyard. No, really. There was more heartbreak, and pressure, and responsibility than you had ever experienced before. You had to balance classes, work, studying, an internship, paying for school, and groceries, and the electric bill, and you realized, HOLY CRAP being an adult is HARD. And you thought you were tired then (ha!). There was dreams of a future career and husband and a family that you felt like you may never reach. You were worried that all this time and money would be for nothing. That the 4 (or more) years would end, and you’d still have no idea who you were or what you were going to do with your life. That you’d have to go out on your own into the big, scary world with a whole lot of debt and, for the first time in your life, no real idea of what would happen next.
It was great, but it was also really hard.
But somehow, between then and now, you ended up here, where you are today. You made it through all your past “hard,” and your dreams finally came true.
Because this is what you always agonized over and worked so hard for, isn’t it? This was your dream all along, right? Or did you forget that?
It’s easy to sometimes, because…
These days are hard. I won’t take that away from you.
But luckily, based on your pattern of past behavior, I think it’s safe to say that one day, you’ll look back on the life you’re living right now with longing.
Afterall, look at you, you fine specimen, you. You’re a piece of work, you know that? You’re tired and you’re bruised (from the kids climbing all over you), but you’re BEAUTIFULLY ravaged. Your stretch marks and tousled hair, they’re a mark of a life lived FULLY. Full of little hands and running, rocking, and repetitive cleaning. No, your life is not dull. Sure, the monotonous days may feel that way sometimes, but I assure you, they’re anything but. Surely, one day, you’ll look back and think,
“Man, remember how good we had it? We lived in leggings and drank entirely too much caffeine. We’d stroll through Target, killing time, with no place else in the world to be (except home for naptime, of course). We stayed up late after the kids went to bed, binge-watching our shows, and somehow managed to wake up at the crack of dawn and do it all over again. And we even thought we had lots of wrinkles back then (ha!). We were so young. Life was so full. We were so NEEDED. My kids needed me. It was the best, wasn’t it? The way they’d reach up for your hand or say, “mommy, hode you!” when they wanted to be held. And they wanted to be held, remember that? How you’d scoop them up in your arms, their sticky hands through your hair, and their slobbery kisses. OH, how they needed you. Their biggest problems could be solved with a kiss and their day made by a sweet treat. They were your little best friends, and they truly believed you had the power to hang the stars. And man, were they cute. Yes, annoying at times, but really, really cute. Those chubby legs, those goofy, wobbly strides. If only I could go back to when my kids were small. Just one more day…”
That’s what you’ll say. You know it. I know it.
Yes, these are the days, mama.
THESE ARE THE DAYS.
Ps. For those of you asking, you can find the hoodie I’m wearing in the picture above right here.