This Will Not Last Forever

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Motherhood is exhausting. I don’t know anyone who would argue with this observation. Sometimes it’s hard to be both in the moment and not resentful — to wish for a respite from the chaos and not be overwhelmed with guilt. It’s hard to enjoy every bit of every moment, and, honestly, I don’t think we are built to. But I’m hoping to become a little more mindful when it comes to these overwhelming moments in motherhood, so I continue to remind myself that this will not last forever.

My 3-year-old sneaks into my bed in the middle of the night and nestles herself between my husband and me. She can’t get comfortable, so she gently places her head on my chest. But that’s not comfortable either. So she launches herself into my abdomen, fully waking me from a peaceful slumber. I heave in terror, then realize it’s her and reposition her so she’s not resting on my bladder. She launches herself again, this time across me and almost off the bed. Since I am no longer peacefully sleeping, I catch her with my cat-like reflexes and reposition her again. This goes on for another 30 minutes. It’s 2 a.m.

But this will not last forever.

In the morning, as I prepare for work, my 5-year-old becomes anxious. Her first thought when she wakes up is about whether or not I am still home, even though I am always sure to wake her if she sleeps past 6 a.m., which is a rarity in our home. Even on the weekends. Her first words to me each day are, “Are you leaving right now? Can we sit together before you leave?” Every weekday, as I pack my bag and my lunch for school, she hesitates to use the bathroom for fear that I will sneak out without giving her a kiss and a hug goodbye (even though I’ve never done this). Every weekday morning, I sit with her for anywhere between two minutes and 15 minutes, depending on the time. We sit and we snuggle, and then my timer goes off and she begs me to stay longer. But I have to leave. So I give her a kiss (or five) and a hug (or five) and leave for my 45+ minute commute to work.

But this will not last forever.

While watching TV in the evening, we snuggle on the couch. Both girls, all (combined) 70 pounds of them, must be near me. Their preference is to be on top of me in some way: my lap, my legs, my shoulders, sometimes even my chest. All this, while bickering. Always bickering. Who can snuggle with me more? Who gets to choose the next program? That’s my spot, move! Each claims a warm spot, never on my lap, always someplace more uncomfortable, as their victory. Resting on a kneecap or an ankle, still bickering over the Mommy real estate. While I sit, claustrophobic, uncomfortable, and, sometimes, in pain.

But this will not last forever.

I hide in the bathroom after requesting a five-minute reprieve from the questions, cuddles, and swarming. After 45 seconds, four little fingers reach under the door, and I hear giggling. Then the storming footsteps of a 5-year-old on a mission and the serious scolding, “Hey! You’re not supposed to be bothering Mommy! What are you doing?” Followed by the realization that her fingers also fit underneath the door frame. Then, more giggling and the onslaught of 20 questions. “What are you doing? How much longer will you be in there? Can we watch YouTube when you come out? Can we jump on your bed?” The last question does not warrant an answer, and they begin jumping and laughing until one falls off and cries. And I wonder why my stomach is a mess and regularity is not part of my bathroom vocabulary.

But this will not last forever.

And so, in the moments when I’m suffocated and trampled and uncomfortable, I remind myself that these are the days of seeking safety in snuggles. I realize that comfort in my kisses and hugs will not last forever. In 10 years’ time, they will be off at a friend’s house or a sports practice, or doing homework, or (gasp!) sleeping in. They will not chase me down and heave themselves upon me, because they will be too busy doing other things. Will they still love me? Of course. Will they still need me? Duh (I still need my mother at age 40). Will it be the same? I’m guessing no.

So for now, I will do my best to remind myself that this will not last forever. I will enjoy as much of it as I can while massaging my achy joints and snuggling my girls on the couch. 

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