My first two babies were born 17 months apart.
One morning, when Adam was one and a half and Stephen was a newborn, I was leaving ladies' Bible study after having picked them up at the nursery. In my left arm was Stephen and his 14-ton baby carrier, two diaper bags and a tote bag. In my right arm were my car keys, three coats and the pudgy hand of little Adam. Just as we exited the building, Adam exploded into a tantrum over something–I can't remember what–and I carried all 25 pounds of screaming boy, dangling from my right hand, his feet refusing to touch the ground. A woman saw me struggling, and with sympathy in her eyes said, "It gets easier."
I went to my car and cried.
Fast forward a few years. Adam had just turned four, Stephen was two and a half, and Joseph was a newborn. It was the end of the day, just before Hubs was supposed to return home. Things had fallen apart. All three of them needed me at once, and all three of them were crying. I sat on the couch, rocking the baby back and forth, a preschooler weeping on each shoulder, and I felt more overpoweringly inadequate than I'd ever felt in my life. I can't do this, I thought, as I focused, quite simply, on breathing in and out. In and out.
Surely, I thought, it must get easier.
This time, I was too spent even to cry.
Those moments, and hundreds more like them, are seared into my heart. As much as I treasured parenting my little pack of preschoolers, the extreme exhaustion and mental drain that comes from that season of life nearly did me in more than once. I look back on those recent years, and I wish I could give the "me back then" a whisper of encouragement from the "me today".
It gets easier, I'd whisper to my bleary-eyed self. They sleep and they reason and they take charge of their own bodily fluids. They make you laugh and they feed the dog and they remember where you put the car keys. They become functioning, delightful little people who can read the notes you leave them. It gets easier. It really does.
Since I can't go back in time to share it with "me back then", let me happily share it with you moms of little ones. You know who you are. I pop in on your blog sometimes and see that precious, frantic season of life you're in. You're sitting there at the computer, right now, and you may have crusty spit up in your hair. You may have assembled 364 miles of Thomas the Tank Engine track today. You may have sung the Dora the Explorer theme song until your head is ready to explode. You have little ones, really little ones, and they need you so very much. And, oh my friend, I know you're tired.
So yes, I tell you, it really does get easier. Sure, you inherit a different set of parenting challenges as they age, but at least everyone can cut his own meat. You will get through this time.
And if that's not encouragement enough for you, let me share with you something a friend shared with me during a particularly trying episode of Young Mommy Fatigue. She e-mailed me the following verse (Isaiah 40:11):
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. [emphasis mine]
Never have I felt as loved as I felt the moment I first read those words. The God of the universe, the Master Creator, stopped in the middle of telling The Greatest Story Ever Told for just a brief moment to whisper, "Moms, I know it's hard. But I will lead you. And I will lead you gently."
As I read it, I laughed and cried altogether, speechless with thanks at a God who could express such specific tenderness to His creation. I wasn't alone.
And neither are you, moms of those precious little ones. You may be up to your ankles in pureed carrots, but many, many of us have gone before and lived to laugh about it, urged on by the gentlest Shepherd. Take all our word for it. It gets easier. And it gets good.