Eight springs ago, I was pregnant with my first son. I was working at a job that I really loved, I’d known my husband for four years, and I was pretty sure I had life figured out. Sure, having a child would change some things, but life would mostly stay the same with the addition of an adorable, swaddled bundle. I will alway remember that spring, and feeling that the unknown was rapidly approaching, but not feeling the urgency of exactly how different it would be. The following eight years have been a blur of time, peppered with colic, moving to a new home, selling and buying two cars, a graduate degree, a new job, and one more baby.
Suddenly, I’ve realized that life has returned to normal once again.
Sure, eight years is a pretty long time, especially in the day-to-day sense. I heard from many people while I was in the thick of the “baby years” that the days are long but the years are short, but I didn’t really grasp how true that statement is until recently. The days were so very long that it really felt, at times, like it would never end. I spent countless family gatherings missing catching up with relatives because I was nursing or rocking a child to sleep or chasing a new walker around. I went on approximately fifteen flights that required a military-esque level of planning and organization. I spent eight summers panicking that the boys would drown in lakes/rivers/the ocean. My children are now seven and almost five. There are no more middle-of-the-night feedings. There are no more diapers. They have backpacks, friends, packed lunches. I don’t need to worry about constant supervision. The baby gates are gone. The diaper bag has been passed on to a friend. The cabinet of sippy cups and plastic baby food dishes is no more. Our last year of preschool is ending, and soon everyone will be in (free!) public school.
It’s all very strange.
I’ve suddenly realized that all the things I’d either given up totally or scaled back dramatically are again moving to the forefront. My husband and I can easily leave the boys with family members and go away for a weekend. I can finally decorate my house the way I want to decorate it without worrying about keeping breakables out of kid-reach and fearing coloring on my walls. Flights take almost zero extra planning. Life is, again, relatively easy. A chapter is closing, and that chapter was exhausting. It’s only in hindsight that I see just how exhausting it was to have young children and babies.
If you’re just starting this chapter, know that it does, eventually, come to a close. You’ll have time to cook dinners, see friends, eat at fancy restaurants, and pursue your own hobbies. People will tell you not to let the baby(ies) rule your life– to keep up your own interests– but don’t feel pressure to add one more thing to your already full plate unless you want to, of course. Someday soon you’ll be on the other side of this intense phase of parenting, and life will be normal(ish) once again.