There have been two times in my life that I was sure I was going to die.
The first was when I was sliding 60 mph down a ski slope on my butt straight toward a tree during a high school youth trip (and I actually saw scenes of my life flash before my eyes–good times!) and the second was when my middle son transitioned from his crib to a big-boy bed at 20 months of age after he gave me no choice but to transition him because he WOULD NOT stop crawling out of his crib.
And I kid you not, after a month of him not napping or sleeping at night and rolling around his floor getting stuck under furniture like a wild animal, I was one mental breakdown away from completely losing my ever-loving mind. During this time, I vaguely remember sobbing on a golf course while telling my husband that I was going to lay down on the 9th hole and take a nap. I did not nap, but I did contemplate throwing a golf club to get my I’m-teetering-on-the-brink-of-insanity point across…(for the record, I did not throw the club, but just contemplating it ironically made me feel better!)
I was taken back to the memory of the golf course the other other day as I was pleasantly waving at a neighbor while my toddler screamed bloody murder while I was fastening him into his car seat—as he seems to enjoy doing most every time I need to buckle him in. Which is really weird since he is perfectly content the second the clasps are buckled.
But in that moment, while my neighbor gave me a concerned look and I did my best to yell through the screams, “OH, DON’T WORRY. HE SCREAMS LIKE I AM CUTTING OFF HIS LIMBS EVERY TIME I PUT HIM IN THIS THING, BUT HE IS TOTALLY FINE! ” I suddenly had the somewhat sobering yet comical realization that in many ways motherhood is really just made up of a series of phases that push you to brink of insanity just to get through it and move into another phase that pushes you to the brink of insanity again. And I’m quite certain this might continue until college…
And while undoubtedly there are many phases simultaneously mixed in that are just so darn adorable you can hardly keep from smothering your child with kisses—like hearing them call their favorite Ariel Mermaid doll their “murdermaid” or yelling out “I’m otaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!” from the ground every time they fall. Some of the other phases feel like some little version of hell on earth created JUST for you by your precious little angel. ;)
To this date. Here are some of our more *memorable* phases of development that have come and gone in our lives or the lives of my friends.
1. The “I only wear pajamas” phase even if I am going to church and it is 20 degrees below outside.
2. The “I have to drink chocolate milk and need you to shake the cup” phase or I will cry.
3. The “I have to drink chocolate milk but need you to not shake the cup” phase or I will cry.
4. The “I want to be a bad guy (NOT a good guy)!” phase. (I had my son diagnosed as a sociopath during this phase.)
5. The “I cannot sit in a high chair or stroller more than 5 minutes” phase.
6. The “I only nap when I’m in the car” phase.
7. The “I nap for 3 minutes” phase.
8. The “I only eat goldfish and hot dogs” phase.
9. The “I hate goldfish and hot dogs” phase.
10. The “I bite my friends” phase. (An all-time favorite of mothers all over the world!)
11. The “I refuse to poop until you take me off the potty and put me back in my pull up” phase.
12. The “I only want Mommy” phase.
13. The “I only want Daddy” phase.
14. The “I might get kicked out of preschool because I like to hit all of my friends” phase.
And here’s my ultimate favorite…having both of your children in a phase that simultaneously work together to pluck every hair of sanity right from your head.
15. Child 1 is in the “I stay up until 1 am in the morning phase” while child 2 is in the “I wake up at 5 am” phase.
I don’t know if you can relate to any of these phases. If not, I bet you have a list all your own of phases that bring back some funny and entertaining memories from your own world. But what I find to be the craziest part of all these phases as I write them out is this simple and ordinary fact…
They are all just that.
Temporary times that seem absolutely permanent until they end and then they often become hard-to-recollect-until-someone-else-brings-them-up-to-us memories.
At the start of last summer, I was expressing dire distress to my husband one night about how much time and money I’ve spent trying to get our children to swim (think YEARS OF LESSONS) only to have moments where they seem like they still might drown. Just to have the summer end with both of my oldest boys jumping off the high dive at our community pool and one completing a triathlon with swimming. I truly NEVER thought I would see the day. And yet, I did. (And cried super, super ugly.)
What’s my point? I think sometimes as parents when we are in a hard phase, we often peg the phase they are in as a permanent personality trait. And while sometimes, there are traits that are permanent with kids, most of the time, kids grow UP and out of the phases! And we are left with wrinkles from panic and stress that were unnecessary.
So today as you’re reading this, if you’re in a difficult phase with your child…
Maybe they are not adjusting well to their new sibling…
Maybe they are teething…
Maybe they are getting picked on at school…
Or maybe you just have an arrogant teenager that is rolling their eyes at everything you say…
And one or more of these things has put you in a state of desperation, worry or stress…I hope this can serve as encouragement to remember that for the majority of things you are facing: “This too shall pass.” But luckily our love for them does not. It’s the one phase in motherhood that seems to be permanent while all the other phases come and go.
And thank God for that, because if it was not, “The ‘I like to put my hands in my poopy diaper and spread it all over my crib phase” might just do us in. Or cause us to drain our savings and hire a nanny for nap-time clean ups. (Which might totally be worth it even if it is JUST a phase! ;)
Share for a laugh. Share if you can relate.
The author of this article is a wife, mother, blogger and licensed marriage and family therapist. 99% of her time is spent keeping her 3 boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog Sanctification and Spitup, which is also found on Facebook.