The Beautiful Trenches. An important reminder for parents, postpartum and beyond.
Feel this moment. Close your eyes and remember this. Breathe it in, now exhale.
I know you feel like you should fold that laundry, load the dishwasher, get to the store for the fourth time this week, check off all the to-do’s on the list. You feel like you need to accomplish just ONE THING today.
I am going to remind you of something.
You are accomplishing all that you need to in this very moment. Being a mother (or father), new or experienced, can be an all-encompassing job. It takes you over, body mind and spirit. Yes, this feels unfamiliar and a little terrifying, but that is exactly how it should be. You see, you are responsible for growing human BEINGS into healthy, happy, well-adjusted members of society. Now THAT is an accomplishment!
You may have been up five times last night with a teething baby. Maybe you didn’t sleep at all because you had to care for a tiny human all day and finish a proposal all night. It’s possible you do not remember the last time you actually brushed your teeth for a solid two minutes (or at all). You may be trying to shake off some baby blues, or how about some teenage blues (if that’s not a thing it should be)? You feel like you need to accomplish something today, in order to recognize that person you are grasping to remember. The woman who drank her coffee in the morning without reheating it 17 times, who had impeccable personal hygiene, and could leave the house in under five minutes, without forgetting 10 things and coming back at least once.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: this moment is fleeting. This moment, in which you feel as though you can’t get anything done, in which you are surviving, and the to-do list just continues to grow like the pile of laundry sitting in the corner. This moment will seem like a distant memory soon. You know what happens while you are waiting for things to change? Your children grow. As time passes and the to-do list shifts, your babies reach milestones. They turn into busy toddlers, inquisitive children, and demanding teenagers. While you are surviving each day your children are moving forward.
I’ve been there Mama, three times now. I have spent my days triple feeding with my mind spinning from sleep deprivation and postpartum depression. With every line through an item on my to do list, I felt a little more human. But the wonderful thing about going through this experience three times now is that it’s given me perspective.
This time around I could sit and breathe in my newborn and be completely content with exactly that. I asked for help from my Mom, my husband, and found support in my community because I didn’t want to spend those moments simply surviving (although spending some time surviving in parenting is inevitable, in my opinion). I sat and watched my baby sleep and reminded myself to slow down. I set reasonable goals and wasn’t hard on myself when the day was full of baby wardrobe changes, pumping, tummy time, 1,000 kisses, naptime, and a walk outside, without one item on my to do list being checked off. My house wasn’t as clean as I would like it to be, the laundry wasn’t always done, the dog didn’t always get his walk, but we were all OK- better than OK.
What am I trying to say? Parenting can be brutal and some phases in particular seem absolutely inhumane. But, it’s beautiful at the same time, in every stage. It’s what I like to call the “beautiful trenches.” Get down in that trench, breathe it in, let the unimportant go, and remember this moment. This moment in this trench or on this mountaintop is what really matters, I can guarantee you that. Slow down, breathe, and remember.