To Myself 3 Years Ago – Parenting Gets Easier
(Firstly, to provide a little context for this letter, my kids right now are 3 and a half and nearly 7, so 3 years ago they were 6 months old and nearly 4)
Hey Rach, how are you going? Actually, I know how you’re going. You’re going shit. Everything is hard; harder than you ever expected it to be. You’re sanity is (barely) held together with caffeine, carbs and reminding yourself that you do really love your children.
Having another baby started off so well; she was an utterly blissful baby. She slept as well as you could expect for a newborn and by 6 weeks old she was sleeping through the night.
Then teething happened.
She popped out 2 teeth by 3 months old; and I know “popped” makes it sound so much easier than it was. Actually teething would be more accurately described as “sharp things tearing through your baby’s gums for months on end.”
So, 3 years ago sucked. It sucked so bad.
The more she needed from me, the more my little boy needed from me. So I went from no-one awake through the night, to both of them waking; on an hourly rotation.
Some nights I wouldn’t get her down until after midnight, only to have him wake before 5am and what little sleep I had in between was broken. Then during the day she was barely slept more half an hour; in 10 minute power naps on my chest.
There were days – weeks – where I barely put her down for more than a few minutes in 24 hours.
And she only wanted me. Nobody else would do. She’d even scream if someone else came into the house.
So, to Me 3 years ago, I just wanted to let you know; it gets so much easier.
It gets easier in ways you can’t even imagine, because you can’t even think about what life might be like in a year from now. You focus on surviving until morning, and then surviving until night. Sometimes you can only manage one hour to the next.
I wish I could go back in time and give you a hand. Not in a “I want to go back and cherish every moment” – HELL NO! I just wish I could take her from you for a bit and give you a break. I wish I could tell you that you’re doing fine and it does get better.
I want to let you know that now I live a week at a time. I actually look forward to weekends; because they mean something again.
Now I can get in the car (with the licence I didn’t have 3 years ago) and drive to the shops completely alone.
Now the kids can both sleep over at grandma’s house. Like, all night!
Now I can cook a meal without someone on my hip, or screaming at my feet and then eat it while it’s hot. I even get to sit down and eat with two hands!
There’s still challenges. Our daughter is still intense, but she can talk now; so she can communicate what is going on for her, which makes everything just so much easier.
The prediction of well meaning family members that her attachment to me would break up my relationship with my partner were wrong; he’s a better man than that and we’re made of stronger stuff.
Our son is still the sweetest kid. He’s sensitive, so we still need to be careful with his feelings, and watch what we say to and around him; but he’s also so compassionate and thoughtful. And he’s still so good to his sister (even when she’s not so good to him.)
A word of warning; they still don’t sleep particularly well. So, don’t hold your breath for that, but it’s bearable and it doesn’t feel like it’ll be forever anymore.
I want to thank you; you don’t feel it right now, but you’re doing so well. You are doing such a good job at raising those two very demanding little people.
You question every choice you make and you stay awake every night when you should be stealing whatever sleep you can, worrying and wondering what you did to make things this bad; feeling guilty and regret that you didn’t make better memories that day.
But you did.
There’s enough beautiful memories that I despite everything I would still think about having another baby.
You took so many pictures and I could never thank you enough for that. I can look at our gorgeous babies and know that they were so loved (and they still are).
I won’t tell you to keep your chin up, or to hold it together, or appreciate it while it lasts.
I just wanted to give you some hope for the future and promise you that this really really will pass.
And that it’s SO worth it – but you already knew that.
So, take care.
Love from Me