“The days are long but the years are short,” and, “Oh it goes so fast! Enjoy every minute!”
What they say is actually true. I know.
I’ve watched my firstborn baby zoom into preschooler mode. I do not know where the last four years have gone. It really, truly does go fast when you look back.
I mean, quite often, by 9 am I’ve already negotiated a clothing debacle (putting clothes on to go outside can be a very unreasonable request to a 2-year-old), broken up a sister skirmish, vacuumed the floor from the Cheerios incident and nursed the baby four times.
But when you’re in it?
When you’re in it, it can go real slooooow. Like, how-is-it-only-noon-but-I-feel-like-I’ve-lived-a-thousand-lives slow.
As a mom of three kids under four, every day feels like I’ve done everything, but I haven’t really done anything for myself yet.
By 10 am
I’ve heard my own voice ask my children to brush their teeth and put their sock and shoes (back) on at least six times. I’ve remembered to write out a check for soccer class, dug out the winter hats and gloves, added more diapers to the diaper bag, brushed my teeth, replied to five text messages, finally ordered thank you notes on Amazon and put the same load of laundry that’s been sitting in the washer machine on for the third time to get rid of the mildew smell (again.)
I’ve gotten the kids into their car seats, fueled up on caffeine with a drive-through coffee (bye, money!), settled the great snack debate (don’t worry, I literally have enough veggie sticks for everyone and their mama), changed a couple of diapers, sang Spaghetti Eddie songs at *just the right pitch and decibel* to please my tiny audience, found and turned on the baby shusher to soothe my crying infant, gotten the kids out of the car and 10 minutes late to soccer, and answered 57 questions.
I’ve also paused to wonder if I’m doing anything right.
If my children appreciate what I do for them?
If my husband understands the rat race that is my daily life?
By 3 pm
I’ve fed my children lunch, ate something on the fly, gotten my daughter to and from preschool, signed up for parent volunteer slots, gotten my younger two down for naps, downed more coffee (an IV would be helpful, I’m not going to lie), called the doctor back, helped my friend make a big decision through an intense text conversation, ordered a few shirts that might be comfortable and look semi-decent since purging things that don’t fit (aka pretty much everything), meal planned, and nursed the baby about eight times.
By 4 pm
I often wonder where the energy will come from for the rest of the night. I’ve debated more coffee. I’ve texted my husband to ask him which train he’ll be on and I’ll wonder if I am going to be able to survive another two and a half hours...
I’ve day dreamed about having enough energy for a date night when my husband got home.
I’ve decided to peruse the internet for a new top to wear for girl’s night out—if we can ever find a date that works.
I’ve decided I really do need to get out soon.
By 6 pm
I’ve cooked and served dinner, I’ve broken up roughly 10 arguments, I have found the right babydoll that goes with the pretty red dress, I’ve negotiated Bubble Guppy watching and I’ve vacuumed (again.)
By 8 pm
I’ve had a 20-minute chat with my husband, nursed the baby three times, explained why one can’t eat an entire bag of chocolate chips, watched a meltdown over the wrong pajamas, put toys away, cleaned up the dinner dishes, put the recycling out, added things we need to our running grocery list, ordered new leotards for dance on Amazon, and put a reminder in my phone to order boots for the girls.
I’ve soothed and shushed and bounced and nursed my baby, I’ve watched a television show, I’ve come up with tomorrow's to-do list, I’ve finally scheduled a hair appointment, I’ve gotten my toddler water, I’ve googled fun activities in the area to do this week and I’ve written an essay.
I’ve fully exhausted myself for the day.
Oh, and by midnight, I’ve finally gone to bed.
In between all of the things, I’ve listened to a fair share of yelling, crying and whining. I’ve been touched by someone at almost all hours of the day. I’ve changed a ton of diapers and made so many plans—plans of things we should do, things we need to do.
Some days, by 3 pm, I want to call it a day. I just feel like it needs to end.
I want our days to be busy because when they’re not, I can't seem to come up with anything to do and I feel lonely.
But I also want our days to be calm because when there’s too much rushing around, I feel overwhelmed.
Quite often I either feel overwhelmed by the loneliness of motherhood, the busyness of motherhood or the vulnerability of motherhood.
Some days by 6:30 pm when my husband gets home from work, I want to give him a kiss and then run to my my bedroom and not come out until the next morning. I want to relax and be by myself and sit in quiet and not hear any requests at all.
The days are long but the years are short. Yes. That is for sure. I don’t really know how four years of motherhood have passed so quickly.
But our daily life? It can feel long. And those long days are tough. But mama, so are we.
If anyone can handle these long, tough days, it’s a mother. That’s what I’ve learned.
So, I propose we change the saying to—
“The days are long, but the years are short. You’re really strong and amazing and please ask your people for help when you need it and never forget to schedule your hair appointment and get a massage every now and then because you deserve it for keeping up with the daily mom grind so flawlessly.”
Mama, you’ve got this. 💜
Colleen is a wife and mom to three awesome girls. She is the Motherly Stories Editor at Motherly. Follow her adventures on Instagram.