This Is What It's Like Parenting Small Children

by Harmony Hobbs
Originally Published: 

This morning, my arms got stuck over my head as I tried (unsuccessfully) to pull on a sports bra.

I was in a hurry — we were running late as always — and in my rush to get dressed, I got stuck. I fought for a few moments before taking a break to consider if it was possible for an adult to give herself nursemaid’s elbow. If it were possible, I’d certainly be the one to do it.

I heard a toddler crying in the hallway as her older brother opened the bedroom door.


Their voices were muffled by my arms, which were smashed against my ears in a tangle of spandex blend, but I could feel them encroaching on my space. The baby burst in, toddling towards the bathroom counter where my makeup was scattered, and my three-year-old was trying to stand on top of my feet like a baby penguin. I jerked the bra off and took a deep breath.

As I exhaled, he tapped me and said, “Mommy? What are those things on your stomach?”

“Those are called breasts. NOW PLEASE GO PLAY SO I CAN GET DRESSED.”

I wrestled myself into clothes, smeared concealer on my face, and muttered about how much faster I would be able to get ready if they would just go find something to do. My words fell on tiny, deaf ears. They didn’t want to go play. They wanted to stand right beside me, watching. Asking questions. Digging tiny fingers into sticks of deodorant.

I am in the season of motherhood where I just don’t get the luxury of uninterrupted time to do much of anything, and it’s hard. I think those who have passed before me (ahem, grandparents) have blocked out the intense difficulty of it and just remember the sweetness. Parenting small children is SO HARD THAT THE HARDNESS GETS BLOCKED OUT LATER.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The thing that I try to remember is that this is a season. I repeat to myself, sometimes aloud, that this is not permanent. It’s hard to imagine a time up ahead where I will actually be able to dress myself without people breathing down my neck … but I know it’s coming. Quite frankly, knowing that is what makes today a little easier to handle.

Sometimes, my children are so beautiful — so wide-eyed and curious and excited for a new day to start — that it hurts. And sometimes, I can’t see the beauty because I have a sports bra wrapped around my face.

That is motherhood.

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