Many wise mothers have shared this saying with me, and yesterday morning, it really rang true: "The days are long, but the years are short." It was 7:30 a.m., and Colin had already been awake for two hours. Ugh.
When he woke up from his morning nap, we went for a long-overdue visit to my former employer to say hello, catch up with former colleagues and show off what a cutie my big boy had become. These wonderful friends had watched as Colin evolved from a twinkle in my eye, to a growing baby bump to a newborn little dude. And at each office I visited, I was asked the same question:
How are you enjoying staying home with the baby?
Of course, my standard answer is that it is a joy. Colin is fabulous, adorable, always growing, changing and keeping me on my toes, but I love him dearly and wouldn't change a thing.
What I don't tell them is that there are days, oftentimes many in a row, that feel like a marathon. Fighting a screaming baby to wipe his runny nose. Dealing with an overtired baby who refuses to take a nap, but doesn't seem so happy to be awake either. Playing referee between dog and baby who are both trying to play with the same toy (usually belonging originally to the dog). There are moments where I feel like I'm up to my elbows in poop, tired of mixing, feeding and cleaning bottles round the clock, and aching all over from schlepping around twenty pounds worth of baby.
No one wants to hear that.
Most of my former colleagues have grown children and many are grandparents. They look back wistfully at their years taking care of their babies and remember the new baby smell. The naps on the couch with a baby sleeping on their chest. The first first smiles, first giggles, first steps and first words. No one thinks back endearingly remembering diaper blow-outs or the never ending pile of laundry.
Each day feels like a marathon, but the year is sprinting by. It feels like yesterday that he was on his first car ride, heading home from the hospital with his anxious parents who buckled him in and triple checked the car seat to make sure he was in there just right. But really, what happened yesterday was that my squirmy little man learned how to dive into his toy box head first, flipping himself upside-down and getting stuck like a baby beached whale.
While it can be exhausting to have someone so reliant on you for help at every turn, I know that in the not-so-distant future, I will long for his outstretched arms (or in yesterday's case, legs) asking for help. We will celebrate his first birthday in May, and instead of reaching for me to hold him, he will likely be crawling or toddling off to play with his friends or chase the dog.
I know that I'm extremely lucky to be able to be home and witness every new discovery, every milestone, every darling accomplishment. But just as someone who loves their job occasionally takes a sick day, complains about their boss or walks to Starbucks to get a break from the hustle, not every moment in stay-at-home motherhood is glorious.
However, there are moments in my day to day madness when I can pause just long enough to appreciate what I'm seeing. I watch in wonder and remind myself: the days are long but the years will be short - enjoy them.