While I’m sitting here this evening, partaking in my newest, guiltiest pleasure—“me time,” I am watching my children put away their toys and put on their pajamas. One is coloring, the other reading. My two girls were born in 2003 and 2006—years that are a true haze.
The oldest was born in the fall, as the weather started getting colder and windier. I’d spend many delusional nights in a glider, thinking to myself that there had to be some reward down the line. As mysterious as it was to imagine what the Universe would give me for my milk-drenched clothes, my messy hair, and my twice-a-week showers, it left a lot to be desired. I had no energy to let my imagination take me far beyond the deep desire for a good night’s sleep, clean sheets on my bed, and the feeling that I was pretty again. To think that, just two years later, I would be on a rhythmic cycle of predictable sleep, back to pre-pregnancy weight and feeling good about life would have been absolute lunacy to me. So it’s no wonder that, right as I reintroduced predictable sleep into my vocabulary, I discovered I was pregnant with baby number two.
Now, three years after the birth of the one I like to call “little baby monkey,” I can calmly look at my messy living room, appreciate that my white couch has far less stains on it than everyone had predicted, and enjoy family time that entails imaginations hard at work. The girls set the table for dinner, they play together, they brush their teeth when they are told, and they understand that when we say “lights out,” there is no negotiating. They go to bed when they are tired, before bed time—even refuse to wake up in the middle of a thunderstorm or when company calls after 8 p.m.
As I write this, I hear Tim McGraw singing “Lord, have mercy on my next thirty years,” and I just wish I could communicate to all of the women below thirty—the new moms, longing for their old lives—that it really does get much better. Holding that newborn in your arms does not last forever. Holding that six-year-old in your arms has more rewards than my mind could ever have made up. Sitting in a peaceful and quiet house, lamp light in the background, allowing the world to go on outside those windows, and waiting for a summer night to set was worth the wait. Knowing the future will hold the same amount of challenges, but just as many blessings is something I am confidently and excitedly waiting for—I just wish I had known it in 2003.