The Crazy Old Lady By Nicole Hough
I have a confession. I have turned into the crazy old lady. You know the one that I mean. She rambles on and on about treasuring every moment with your little ones because the time will just fly! I now, shamelessly, stare at young mothers whose arms are full of sweet little bundles of joy. I smile wistfully, remembering when I was the young mother surrounded by little ones. It feels like only yesterday that my days revolved around nap times and tea parties. Wasn’t it just last night that the baby was crying and was only consoled when we settled into the rocking chair for a late night nursing session? With those days long behind me, it is easy to forget how tired I was back then. Each day was about survival, and if I was really lucky, a shower. My house was a mess. I was drowning in dirty diapers and craved adult conversation. I spent all day surrounded by tiny humans that needed me and depended on me for everything. It was exhausting and overwhelming—but also pretty wonderful.
I really wish that I had actually believed it when an older and wiser mother had smiled at me and told me to “enjoy it because time would fly by in the blink of an eye.” Instead, I would smile back at her, (usually through gritted teeth) and nod while trying desperately to keep from rolling my eyes. I was certain that she had no idea what she was talking about. She had no idea what my days consisted of. She had no idea that it had taken us an hour and a half to get out the door because by the time that I had all of the kids in shoes and coats, someone had to use the potty or the toddler had taken his shoes off for the thirteenth time. Didn’t she realize that I hadn’t shaved my legs in three weeks? I had to be content to brush my teeth and put on deodorant each day. Things like showers and shaving were rare treats that could only happen when my husband was at home for backup. My living room floor was littered with toys and cheerios. The dirty laundry was never-ending. We would spend days at a time without ever leaving the house because dragging nine kids anywhere was, quite frankly, insane. I’m fairly certain that I wasn’t able to sit through an entire mass without making a trip (or six) to the back with a fussy baby or cranky toddler for about ten years. I had good reasons to not believe the older, wiser woman. I really did. But she was right.
I am now at the point where my house is clean(ish) most of the time. I can shower everyday, if I want to. I routinely have all of the dirty laundry done. And I can easily get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. I can even curl up and read a book that wasn’t written by Dr. Seuss. My days now revolve around school activities and basketball practice, but there is also a little bit of time for me too. I love the season of life that I am in now. Having older kids is such a blessing. It truly is. But—what I wouldn’t give for just one more day of baby snuggling with my little ones. I was the center of their little lives and their sweet little faces were the center of mine. I would just take it all in instead of getting frustrated by the little hands pulling on me and the constant “Mom,mom,mom,mom!” Those days that felt like they would never ever, ever end, did. Gradually their worlds got a little bit bigger and my role, as a parent, got a little bit smaller.
There is something wonderful about each season of parenthood. The problem is that the human side of us has a hard time recognizing the beauty that surrounds us. We get so bogged down in the difficulty of our situation that we can miss the blessings. Those older women were little angels sent to remind me to appreciate what I had when I was in the middle of the chaos. But now that I am the older woman, I think that the opposite is also true. The frazzled young mother, balancing her baby on her hip, has been sent to remind me of how richly blessed I am and have always been. She is a visible reminder of the reality that time really does fly by in a blink. I know because just yesterday I was her.
Nicole Hough knew that she was going to marry her husband, Brian, after one date. They were engaged 77 days later, married six months after that, and haven’t looked back since! They do everything big, including their family. With six boys and three girls, there is never a dull moment. When Nicole is not working as a part-time faculty secretary at Franciscan University, she is cheering from the bleachers for her kids or folding mountains of laundry. She loves the Blessed Mother, the rosary, and her dog Benny. Her favorite place in the world is in her rocking chair on her front porch with a good book and a glass of wine. In place of therapy, she writes about anything and everything, from motherhood to depression. You can read some of her ramblings at her blog, Full of Grace and Wine.