Pregnancy is hard. Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. These are words I've said in the past few weeks to other moms asking for advice. Each step of parenthood can be difficult - from the leg cramps at night when you can't sleep because your belly is uncomfortable, to the newborn nursing stages of sore and tender breasts, to constantly questioning your decisions about your child's diet, their development, their interactions with others. We frequently hear moms ask, "When does it get easy?"
Yes, we hear stories of women who are glowing through their pregnancies and will beam how much they enjoy being pregnant. We hear the fantastic stories of women who didn't realize they were in labor and three pushes later, they held a baby in their arms. We hear about the moms with a newborn who nurses like a champ from the first latch and the mom has an oversupply of milk so she has a giant freezer stash for when she returns to work.
If you're like me, you sometimes wonder how these women have it so easy with their babies. Maybe your baby won't latch or if he does, it's incredibly painful and uncomfortable for you. Maybe you stare at the pump bottles hoping they'll fill up quickly during a pumping session, but you only get a half an ounce combined. We know we shouldn't compare our lives to theirs, but these moments are hard.
What if we turn it around and remind ourselves that we can make it easier - by being easy on ourselves? This weekend my community held a bike ride through town - not to raise money but to raise awareness for healthy living. Our family of five did the ride, and I expected my 5 year old to do the abbreviated route - because I thought it would be too hard for him to do the full 3.5 miles.
"Slow and steady wins the race," he said as we passed the halfway turning point and he went for the full loop. I asked him if he thought it might be too hard, and reminded him that even the bigger, taller children were turning to the shorter route. "Mom, this is easy for me. Slow and steady wins the race."
We took the long route, and he was the last participant to reach the finish line - and he was escorted most of the way by his hero firemen on a firetruck behind him. He received awesome words of praise on the way. "Great job, Buddy." "You got this." "Keep going - don't stop now." "You deserve an award for determination." "You should be very proud of yourself."
When we reached the end, I gave him a hug and asked how he felt. "Great - I told you it was easy. I was slow and steady." I was proud of him for finishing the long loop, but I was crazy proud of him for believing in himself and knowing he could do it. He persisted, he persevered and he did what he wanted - happily.
I look at my parenting style and need to apply his "slow and steady" approach. Everyday that we love and care for our children the best ways we know how - we, also, can be slow and steady. They grow up a little every moment we are with them, and each obstacle gets easier. Sleeping through the night, pumping more milk per session, cutting their first tooth after months of teething - each milestone makes way for the next.
And it's all happening so quickly. I feel like it was just last month that my midwife told me we were expecting a second boy, a little brother for my baby - and here is is riding his two-wheeler through town and giving me advice about life and its challenges.
Slow and steady wins the race - because we certainly don't want to rush this. <3