August 15, 2015
Seasons of Love
Posted by Steph
I sit here, in the quiet of the morning, typing while I wait for my kids to wake up. It's after 8am, which has become the norm this summer. And while I've gotten used to my girls stumbling downstairs bleary-eyed at this time of day, I'm reminded of a time, not so long ago, when an 8am wake up would have seemed miraculous.
I remember when Chica was first born, and I was completely blindsided by this whole "parenting" thing. And by "blindsided" I mean, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was an on-the-job learning experience wrought with frustration, anxiety and fear. Our first night home with her came with no instructions from the hospital. Around 8pm, I looked at Hubby and said, "So...do we just...put her down to sleep?"
While "just putting her down to sleep" was a nice idea, it's not quite what Chica had in mind. I had no idea what to do with this little pink being who spent the entire night crying. Which, in turn, meant I spent the entire night crying. Why won't she sleep? I thought wildly. What am I doing wrong?
The first no-sleep night quickly became weeks upon weeks of fighting for sleep. Hubby started a new job shortly after she was born, so while he was up for helping, I shouldered the main burden of nights on my own. I soon came to dread night time. A cold, sinking feeling would creep into my stomach around 6pm, as the sun started its journey toward the horizon. I knew what the darkening night would bring: a fussy baby, breastmilk that didn't satiate the way I hoped it would, and the inevitable crying and rocking into the wee hours of the morning with a mind and body weary from lack of rest.
During these first few weeks, as I struggled not only with sleep but the overall transition to parenthood, I remember having the distinct, if not completely unrealistic, fear that this would be my life forever. That this mess of emotions, exhaustion, anxiety, crying that was my new life had no expiration date. Disheartened, I feared that I'd never sleep, eat or shower again.
But then, over time, things changed.
Of course they did. Because we don't go to college in diapers, crying all night, feeding out of a bottle every 2 hours. We grow, we evolve. And in the haze of newbornness, I couldn't wrap my mind around the truth: this, too, shall pass. One of the greatest lessons I learned as a new parent was that everything is a season. Some seasons are harder than others, but they all grow, change and evolve. Newborns will grow into infants who eat, sleep and smile. Our non-mobile babies will eventually roll, crawl and walk. Our non-verbal babies will turn into chatterbox toddlers. Our fussy eaters will soon become insatiable bottomless pits as they hit growth spurts in elementary school. Our struggling sleepers will, eventually, become teenagers who we will have to kick out of bed.
As with winter, spring, summer and autumn, each parenting season we face, however quick or long-lasting, however joyful or frustrating, will transition into a new season. Our parenting winters will be greeted with the relief of parenting springs. And these seasons will last for as long as we are parents, at varying lengths and severity. Off and on for the past seven years, I've hit several seasons of struggling sleep. We're currently in a "Siblings Fighting All Day Long" season. We went through the picky-eating season, and I know someday we will go through a boy-crazy season. Let's not even talk about the "Watching Calliou" season.
It's one I'd like to forget and never revisit. Like, ever.
Parenting seasons are inevitable, but take heart, parents: whatever season(s) you are in right now, there is an end in sight. There is a spring to your winter, a dawn to your night. Find hope in the struggles you are facing, and know that sooner than you think, things will get better, easier. You will find your new normal. You'll become wiser, stronger. You may even look back one day fondly on these seasons you once so struggled to be in.
And, above all, in every season, your heart will grow deeper and more passionate than you thought possible.