In early November, I started a new job and a new career path. For the first time in almost four years, I started working 40 hours a week. I felt like a new me with my fancy email signature and my cute work clothes and shoes. I got to put on earrings and lipstick and do my hair in the mornings! Even more so, the guilt and burden of not contributing enough to my family financially was lifted off my shoulders. About a month or two later, it got a little harder to wake up in the mornings. I started to feel realllyyy tired. You know, like the full-time-working-mom-with-two-toddlers-at-home tired. I loved (and am still loving) my new role at work, but man this full-time gig is no joke.
I was so exhausted and I had so much to do. That’s when I realized that the stage of parenting I am in, and have been in for the past three years, has been the physical stage.
On top of my new full-time job, for the past 1,277 days, my husband and I have done everything for ourselves, plus two other people. We have given baths, fed babies, picked out outfits and pajamas. We have toted the car seat back and forth. We have loaded and unloaded a double stroller countless times. We have changed hundreds of diapers. It’s been a marathon day in and day out for almost four years.
Really and truly, parenting thus far has been so physical.
We do it all. Literally. There’s not a lot our kids can do for themselves right now. This is definitely one of those things people don’t warn you about. I am that crazy mom that walks into daycare with short sleeves on because I have been sweating all morning getting my kids ready and in their car seats, and the 40 degree temps actually feel good! On top of all this, it goes without saying that we are all mentally and emotionally exhausted, too.
About the time I started thinking about this topic, and all the physical examples I could use, I also started thinking about how day by day my girls are becoming more independent. They are taking their plates to the sink after dinner. They are helping me get dressed and telling me, “I do it myself.” They are learning to pick up their toys or even go to the bathroom by themselves.
They’re starting to turn the corner. They’re becoming more aware of my emotions and theirs. They amaze me with how smart they are. It makes me think about the next stage, the one where I hope I can really start to get to know them. One of my main goals as a mom is to know my children on a deeper level. I long to really know them. I want to talk to them about their strengths and weaknesses; I want to know their fears and their dreams; I want to know them on a deep spiritual level; and I want them to know that I am always their safe place.
So while I am exhausted, and I might be tired of making chicken nuggets and packing diaper bags, I can also see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see that even though I thought I was doing it all, I was also teaching them how to do things for themselves. I can already see that; while everything seems physically tasking right now, I also see them growing into young girls.