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Let's not forget

Originally Appeared in : 9814-7/5/18

My brother’s little boy peed on my floor the other day. My tiny little nephew was really sweet about it, quickly offering to clean up the mess so he could get back to the business of playing with Legos.

 

It was one of those no harm/no foul moments. We have hardwood floors, and (more importantly) we have five sons. All the nice stuff in my house has already been tested and proven worthy.

 

It’s crazy to me that I no longer have any of my own children in this phase, the stage of doing crazy stuff and making weird messes. We have messes, just not like that. But you can imagine that there was a time in my life when all I had was weird stuff going on. 

 

Once upon a time, one of my boys fell asleep at my sister-in-law’s house. Somehow he ended up on her beautiful, brand-new fancy settee and drenched it in his sleep. 

 

I was mortified.

 

I remember feeling devastated and embarrassed and so grateful that my sister-in-law took it in stride. I’m sure she had to get it professionally dry-cleaned and I never heard another thing about it. How kind of her.

 

I had that memory as I pulled out the Clorox wipes to clean up this mess in my front room. I’m not in this season anymore, I realized, but I never want to forget how tough it is. Little people are very unpredictable and being a mama of little ones is exhausting. Those of us who have been there have a duty to encourage and support these women.

 

I have this thought often, moving about my day. My baby is now 8, what a strange new stage we are in. Life is much easier in many ways with no really little ones in tow.

 

I added “in many ways” for two reasons. One, I never want a mama of really little children to look too far into the future and become unhappy with life now. This place you are in is perfect and wonderful and totally hard and exhausting. But it’s the place God has you. Look for the beauty here, even on the tough days when your kid makes a weird mess at someone else’s house. 

 

Two, I add “in many ways” for all those mamas who are in the season I’m in. We know it’s hard and challenging, but in totally different ways. I never want a young mama drowning in a sea of sleepless newborn nights and potty training frenzy to look ahead and hear from a mom of bigger kids that life just gets harder. I didn’t appreciate that sentiment. But I also know, like other moms in my same season, that it is tough and to pretend otherwise is folly. Motherhood isn’t for wimps. 

 

But there is grace for it.
You can do it.
Be not afraid.

 

To those of us who no longer load and unload multiple children into multiple carseats, let’s be kind. Let’s remember to encourage those beautiful, crazy families we see trying to make it through the grocery store and to survive weekly Mass. Let’s be generous with our encouragement and stingy with our criticism. Let’s consider that even if this woman’s children are running her ragged and going crazy, she is trying her hardest and doing her best. Even if all we see is frenzy and chaos, let’s offer a kind word and tell her she’s doing great.

 

I would often blink back tears when a mom of older kids would take the time to tell me what a good job I was doing. I appreciated the reminder that the hard work of just keeping small children alive was noble and good. Somedays I was tempted to think life was passing me by and I treasured the reminder that I was exactly where I needed to be doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

 

To the mama of little ones: It’s a strange, intense, beautiful season you are in. It won’t last forever, for better or for worse. And to the mama of big ones: We made it. With our extra energy, let’s look for ways to support and encourage those women dealing with tomorrow’s teens.

 

Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at rsbalducci@diosav.org.

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