The other night as I was showering before bed I had this intense flashback to 8-9 months ago. We were in the midst of attempt number 8 million to transition Eli to his crib and I was rushing through the shower in hopes that I’d get out before Eli woke up, screaming, for the umpteenth night in a row. I remember hurrying through every step of the shower, even once forgetting to rinse out the conditioner, just hoping that unlike the past 4 nights, I’d get all the way through. And that perhaps this would be the night he didn’t wake up horribly upset at all.
I remember clearly the stress I felt about sleep training, about that transition that was so difficult for us. It was all consuming at the time. I wondered if we’d ever figure it out, if Eli would ever sleep through a night. Everything felt so important, so big, in the moment. And now, it seems so small. So insignificant.
I belong to a few mom groups and one of the things I see all the time is moms of very young babies (6 weeks!) asking how they can get their babies to nap because they don’t want to build bad habits by letting their baby nap on them. I am not criticizing these mothers, not at all, I was one of them. I get that pressure and concern because I had it. And, now, being far removed from that point of parenting, all I want to say to them is please, please hold that baby. Please let that baby nap on you. Please take an hour, maybe 2, and just soak up those snuggles, that closeness, without worrying about tomorrow or next month. Because before you know it, that tiny infant will be almost 18 months old and in the infrequent occasions where he wants to snuggle, he will take up your entire lap with his long legs and wiggly body.
I just want to tell these moms that these moments, all of them, are fleeting. This is what I’ve learned. Everything about infancy, about toddlerhood is fleeting. As soon as you get used to something, it stops. As soon as you stress about something, it’s finished. These things that feel so huge and pressing, they’re just a tiny moment in a life.
I was so absorbed in the drama around getting Eli to sleep in a crib, or at least not in a rock n play, that I couldn’t see how brief that stage really was. I couldn’t see that it would be over and we’d be onto something else soon enough. That someday I’d take a shower, leisurely, without worrying about a screaming baby and having to decide where and how to get him back to sleep. That someday, Eli would sleep peacefully through the night without my help. I couldn’t see that we would all be fine.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this point where I feel like I need to enjoy every second of Eli’s life, instead of letting myself get completely wrapped up in the problem of the day. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen from time to time, but it happens less and I enjoy motherhood so much more. Realizing how far we’ve come, how much we’ve both learned, is a big deal.
And I think that in finally seeing how brief these moments are, it’s easier to enjoy them. To realize that though things really do feel monumental, they’re really just momentary. Every stage and struggle is fleeting, but this child is mine forever.