Winter hit early my first year as a mother. It was only September — my newborn just a month old — when the first bitter blast hit. Up until that point, I had been cozy and warm, cuddled and tucked into my new life with this new life.
Then the crying started.
The crying came on like a blizzard, shutting out everything and everyone, making it impossible to see 3 feet in front of me. It covered me, blinded me, surrounded me in a disorienting whirlwind of high-pitched, spine-shattering wails.
I was so tired. So tired. And the crying was so relentless. I felt trapped inside this colicky newborn stage that goes by quickly only in hindsight. I found myself starting to loathe this season, yearning for the next phase, wishing for the next milestone to hit.
I forgot for a moment that seasons pass, always and forever, ad infinitum. Winter gives way to spring, spring turns to summer, summer gives way to autumn, and autumn surrenders to winter. Seasons do not last, for better or for worse. It’s as true in motherhood as it is in Mother Nature. And just as each season has its strengths and its shortcomings, each phase of parenting does, too.
Winter means hot chocolate, cozy fires, and twinkle lights — but it also means teeth chattering, snow shoveling, and treacherous driving. The newborn phase means the baby head smell (Lord have mercy), silky skin, and sweet firsts — but also random crying, sleepless nights, and intermittent showering. You can’t have the sweet without the bitter.
Spring brings fresh air, flower buds, and baby animals, but also muddy entryways, unpredictable weather, and allergies. The toddler phase brings hilarious talking, the sweetest hugs, and bursts of new learning, along with willfulness, meltdowns, and erratic nap schedules. You can’t have the wonder without the work.
Summer means swimming, sundresses, and evening barbecues, but also sweating, sunburns, and bees. The elementary years mean independence, complex thought, and burgeoning personalities, but also moodiness, friendship woes, and homework battles. You can’t have the positive without the negative.
Autumn gives us gorgeous colors, mild weather, and apple cider, but also spiders inside, candy hangovers (just me?), and endless leaves to rake. The teen years give us mature senses of humor, deep conversations, and extra drivers, but also relationship issues, grown-up problems, and the pain of letting go. You can’t have the fun without the frustration.
It’s tempting to wish for a season to pass when you’re right in the thick of it. When your baby isn’t sleeping, your preschooler refuses to cooperate, or your older kid regresses and whines like a toddler, it’s natural to think that the next stage must be easier. But it’s not. It’s just as magical and maddening as the season you’re in, just in different ways.
And all of those positives in each parenting phase? They don’t last. Like leaves changing color and dropping from the trees, those moments of magic drift into memories, only to be relived through the haze of the past. Baby chubs, toddler giggles, big kid discoveries, bigger kid heart-to-hearts — if you aren’t mindful of these gifts in spite of the constant chaos of parenthood, you will find that you missed out on what makes it all worthwhile.
So embrace the season you are in, even with its inconveniences, annoyances, and heartaches. Smell the flowers, splash in the puddles, feel the leaves crunching under your feet, listen to the silence of the snow falling. Look at your children, knowing that their beauty will change tomorrow. Take pictures and record their voices, knowing you can’t capture the feel of their hand in yours or the smell of their silky hair. Hold them in your arms, knowing they will never be again what they are in this moment.
Take breaks when you need to — and you will need to — but do not wish for another season. I promise, it’s already on its way.