Sometimes I think to myself, “If I hear that phrase, ‘this is the most precious time’ referring to the toddler years again I’m going to throw-up.
Save it, please. Yes, the snuggles and the tiny belly laughs are AMAZING and I’m not minimizing that. But have you forgotten that in between, and I mean frequently every 15 seconds to 2 minutes, when you are peppered with demands, and disasters, and messes, or crying, just to name a few? It is NOT what I would call heavenly.
Recently as I was trying to do the dishes my daughter pooped in our yard (she was 16 months) and my son gagged himself to the point of throwing up on our bedspread. Those were just the highlights— the occurrences that required more extensive fixes on my part— not even the bulk of the other interruptions that happened while I was attempting a small but totally necessary household task. It’s funny now—but seriously the experience of being constantly thwarted—even when you try to do the simple and more boring activities like cleaning your kitchen can be just so defeating.
“You’re basically a slave,” said a friend of mine when I was mentioning this time period to her. She’s not even a mom. And yet she gets it. Maybe it’s because she’s seen me in action—or she reads my posts. But, yes at least at the beginning, motherhood is basically slavery.
It feels good for someone to say that to you when you’re in it. Because it’s true, and it honors the intensity of what is truly going on for you. But it’s not the sort of analogy you can live under for long and feel happy or empowered by.
So naturally, my mind started to process it a different way. I was sitting in my car one day thinking about the intensity and the constancy of the demands I am under when I started to turn “slavery” into “warrior”.
You know that scene in movies where the person is in training and they break down? They are under such hardship that it starts to break them? … And then they get through it, and they become stronger, bigger, tougher, and more skilled than they were before. Well that’s what’s going on here.
Motherhood is warrior training. You are training yourself to be aware and responsive to many needs in one moment, even tempered and peaceful when things don’t go your way, able to make tough decisions and carry out actions that require focus, determination and strength (even when you’d rather not be donning out that consequence), endure physical hardships (high pitched screaming coming from the back seat of your car comes to mind), and to act spur of the moment using both your intuition and all the other discernment skills at your disposal as an adult.
It’s so easy to forget this when the bulk of your tasks involve spreading jam, doing dishes, cleaning up messes, getting people dressed, and instilling the very basics of necessary society rules: “We don’t run up and grab something out of someone’s hand” over and over again. If you were on a field sparring with a sword in your hand, it would be easier to remember, “I’m in training here. I’m becoming stronger. There is a bigger and better purpose I am serving.” If you had little people behind you with swords (Eeeek! Gasp!), it would also be easier to understand.
Because there is another crucial part about being a warrior isn’t there? It’s the understanding that there is something precious and important to protect. That this learning, this knowledge, this mastery is a vital and necessary component of serving a bigger picture and contributing to a better world. On a day-to-day basis, it’s so hard to relate this to laundry!
But the truth is, there is a bigger task at hand. Every parent is growing the future. And even in the midst of your own training—you are contributing to making the world a better place—by growing children that are thoughtful, deliberate, aware, gracious, and kind, (or whatever your values are), and kids that know the basic fundamental rules of how we treat each other as humans. It’s hard work to be sure. And anyone who gives you the “the most precious time” line has forgotten that this is also the most intense part of your training. They can’t remember what it feels like.
So this is my note of encouragement to you, and to me, because I often need it. I forget constantly that there is a bigger task at hand here. That this time period of my life is not just all about wiping bums and cleaning faces, dealing with dishes and sweeping up messes. These are just the tasks set to make Warrior Woman Me better, stronger and even more able to adapt, and in doing so, to grow something that glows, for our future.
Yours in solidarity and training,
P.S. This is the second coping technique that I mentioned thinking of in this post: An 8 Word Balm for the Overwrought Parent. The first Mom tip is in this post: A spectacular two word mantra that can help a mom return to happy. The third one is coming.