A Light in the Parenting Tunnel


One of my favorite sayings about Motherhood is “the days are long, but the years are short.”

Motherhood is wonderful. The most fun “job” I’ve ever had, but the most grueling and exhausting too.

There are plenty of days, especially during cold, dreary winters like this one, where everyone in my house is feeling a little stir crazy. The kids get grumpy, and so do I. There are days that I think how nice it will be when my kids are school-aged and a little less dependent on me for everything. Times that I long for days when they can both dress themselves, get a drink or snack themselves, and generally do more things for themselves.

Sometimes I get to go for a date with my husband, or grandma takes the kids for a few hours and I feel a little guilty wishing I had even more kid-free hours.  I know I can’t be the only parent who has ever felt that way though. Not that I want to wish away their 0-5 years. There are many days, and even moments on difficult days, where I look at my two little children and am humbled and overjoyed at my love for them and how much they love and need me.

But lately I’m starting to see that our infant/toddler phase will be coming to an end in the foreseeable future. I am so proud (and relieved) when my son happily and readily dresses himself, gets his own cup and drink, or puts on his own snowgear. I love how he loves to do projects. Just the other day he told me he wanted to re-create a snow melting project he learned at school. All I had to do was help him get the supplies and he worked away. He likes helping with chores around the house too, simple ones like feeding the dog, sweeping the floor, shoveling snow or stacking wood with daddy, putting his dirty dishes next to the sink, or unloading the silverware basket from the clean dishwasher. He also loves cooking with me. These are all things I celebrate, especially on particularly exhausting days because one or both kids didn’t sleep well the night before, and therefore, neither did I.

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making pizza

My son is in his first year of preschool. I’m happy on school mornings to get a break and have one-on-one time with my daughter while he is at school. She is learning to talk so well, and developing a great sense of humor, and understands so much. It’s great to see my son enter the larger world and develop relationships with friends and teachers. It’s fun to hear stories about things he did without me or his dad. But I also miss him when he is gone and feel surprised at how long those 3.5 hours feel some days.

In a year and a half my son will be in kindergarten and my daughter will be entering preschool. Sometimes that seems far away, and other times impossibly close. At that point our lives will be permanently changed once again. I’m excited to be slowly but steadily transitioning away from baby/toddlerhood. Still, I remind myself that once we get there I will have moments when I long for my kids to be little and snugly again. I will miss the days we were just home. The practice of parenting is bitter-sweet, and I’m getting the sense that it will always feel that way.

I live in the present as much as possible, even on those difficult days, but I also see a light in the parenting tunnel.


  1. i’ve been thinking a lot about this post since reading it last week. i’ve been thinking how i’ve identified with it so much. people have asked me if we plan on having more kids and its been hard for me to articulate why we dont’ have more kids. usually i say something like how i’m ready to move on to the next phase of our life with the kids and family. your post really summed it up. i am so happy to have relived infantdom and toddlerdom with ruby but am also looking forward to henry ruby karl and i going on weekend trips where one of us doesn’t have to carry the baby all the time, etc. but don’t get me wrong, it is bittersweet. thanks for sharing this post sandra.

  2. Right now my baby is drifting off to sleep on top of me and I so feel the paradox – part of me loves this warm, comfortable embrace of baby and mother that’s so special… And part of me is like “fall asleep kid, I’ve got things to do!”

    Lovely piece, and so true.

    • You and Nissa got it right with the word paradox. I couldn’t think of that as I was writing. And I’ve totally been in that position of warm sniffly baby and wanting to jump up and do grown up things. Thanks for commenting !

  3. I can definitely relate to some of your feelings Sandra. There are days where I desperately wish that my little ones could do more things for themselves and not need me so much! But then there are also those moments, like when Nora successfully dresses herself, that I feel the pang of realizing that it is all going so fast and my little babies are disappearing. Motherhood is such a paradox!


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