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My Space, My Time, My Needs

In the midst of raising babies and young children is there such a thing as your time? You feel every time you turn around someone is demanding something from you. By the time your husband comes home from work, you feel like a limp, soggy rag that should have been washed three weeks ago.

After you maneuver through dinner (when do you really eat a sit-down meal when a baby wants to nurse or a toddler finishes in five minutes and you haven’t even begun to eat?) You throw any leftovers in containers for tomorrow’s lunches, and soak the pans to greet you in the morning.

Then it’s time to get them to bed. Deep Sigh.

When do you get “alone” time? You can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself, lest your toddler yell through the door in a petrified voice wondering if you’ve disappeared. (Only in your wishes)

My husband knows I need “alone time”. He made sure he carried, distracted, wrestled, whatever it took, so that I could take a shower, by myself. Sometimes I could hear the screams as he quickly walked them away from the bathroom door, and I’d quickly rinse bubbles from my hair to make it a short but appreciated shower. Other times, I’d linger long, relaxing in the heat of a hot shower and a minute by myself.

I remember a neighbor, she was a great-grandmother. She told me with a smile, “These were the best days of my life.”

“Diapers and nursing? Ugh.”

She laughed and said, “Because we were all here, together.”

My husband reminds me to enjoy each stage, whether it's that fresh new baby smell that only lasts a short time (when you try to feel "normal" again, whatever that is), or that toddler stage where they are trying to be independent, but don’t have the coordination or strength to do it all, enjoy them. This, too, will change.

Once again, my husband was right.

We’ve moved on to another stage, different, difficult in its own ways, but again my husband reminds me to enjoy the stage. This, too, will change.

I’ve learned raising babies and toddlers was physically exhausting. I never slept through the night for the first twenty-two years of our marriage. (The first year I was pregnant after the first month and who sleeps while you’re pregnant?)

Later when my children became teenagers, I wasn’t physically tired, I was emotionally tired. The decisions they made were not what cereal to have in the morning, but what they wanted to do with their lives. Decisions that made a difference. Those were the emotionally exhausting days. They were really out of my control, and I hesitated to interject my wisdom lest it be rejected.

Now, I see my oldest son with his growing family. I remember the hurried meals, the exhausting bed times, the sleepless nights. They did pass.

My husband was right. It was a short time. That great-grandmother who said, “these were the best years, because we were all together” was also right.

Now as my space in my house increases as my boys leave home, the hole in my heart get bigger. They don’t stay long. But my husband reminds me that they'll return, and bring their families.

My Space, My Time, My Needs?

In every stage of motherhood, I don’t have to push and shove to get my needs fulfilled. I do what God has given me to do, today, this moment.

Do you know why babies must nurse all the time?

I use to get so upset. I’d tell my husband, “All I did was nurse, all day.”

He’d nod and look over the messy house and the burned rice. (After every new baby, I would burn rice for a year. It didn’t matter when I started cooking dinner, the baby would have a marathon nursing time. I would sit and rock and nurse and smell my rice burn. And my husband would come home from work and eat dinner and say, “Good dinner.” And I would cry, because the rice was burned (again). He would tell me, "It's just a short time."

Why do babies nurse all the time?

I would look around my cluttered house as I nursed and wonder if this was the way it was suppose to be. I would make my list of what I would do when I could finally put the baby down and DO something.

Why do babies nurse all the time?

God gives mothers rest during those times. Can you do anything but sit and nurse? Use that time to know God. Praise Him in song. Thank Him in prayer. Meditate on the few words that you were able to grab from reading. Or just rest. God is giving you time. This really is your time.

Let God take care of your space, your time, and your needs. He has blessed you with a child. He knows what that demands. Rest. Sitting and doing nothing...but nursing. And knowing Him.

He does know best.



What are ways you found to have some alone time during the baby and toddler years of training?
 

Forgot to answer your question above about time alone during the baby and toddler years. That's pretty impossible, right, but for us it worked best that they all had a fairly early bedtime. That's the only way to know that they are "down," and won't be popping back up into "your time." Our kids were pretty good about staying down, and I know some aren't, but it's worth the effort to train them to do this.

You certainly bring back memories! And for me they are only memories, so I'd say too, enjoy these years, they really are gone too soon. And yes, they do come back and bring their families, which means more and more little ones to pray for and trust that you raised their parents well enough that you don't have to interject your advice into their families. You know, I think the hardest time was when we had younger children and young adults living in the house at the same time. It was no longer the same rules for all, but obviously had to be very different for the young adults, and the younger kids didn't like that. It's just hard seeing others have privileges you don't have. It's also hard having young adults at home because they don't appreciate being mothered, and for us, it's hard to change old habits. Still is!

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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