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It Won't Be Like This for Long

By: Elizabeth Meadows, ARNP, CNM

This morning as I was listening to the radio I heard a song titled "It Won't Be Like This for Long." In it a father is lamenting how tired he is in the first few days after his newborn daughter arrives. His wife reminds him that the sleepless nights don't last forever. In the second verse he worries that his preschooler cries every time he has to leave her. The teacher assures him that one day soon he will drop her off and she won't even realize he left. In the final verse he is fretting about his obstinate teenager but he realizes she will soon be grown and gone. Every phase of parenting can seem more daunting than the last. But it seems like everywhere you go people are telling you to "enjoy this time, it goes by so fast."

This song was poignant for me because this very morning I dropped my "baby" off for his last day of middle school. How is it possible? It truly seems like not so long ago he was a tiny baby in my arms. "They grow up so fast" is said so often it has become cliché. But the reason it is said is because it is true. When those long nights of feeding and rocking have you to the point of exhaustion it helps to remind yourself that all babies eventually sleep through the night. When you are dealing with another tantrum and think you just want to cry too, remember it is only your child trying to learn to cope with the big world around him. When you think the homework battles are finally going to turn into all-out war, think about how short the time is getting before your child will be off and on her own.

So the time with our children is fleeting. If the time comes when you find you are unable to keep this perspective and it just seems to be overwhelming all the time, reach out. We all need a little help sometimes. Carve out a little slice of time for yourself. Find an activity or hobby that always brought you joy back in the days before you became a parent. Don't feel guilty about taking this time. Talk with your partner. It might be time to reassess the division of some of the duties around your home. Vent with friends who have been through it themselves. Find a local mother's morning out program where there are a few hours of inexpensive or free child care. And if it just all starts to be too much talk with your health care provider. We have information on many programs and opportunities in the community that might help. Or there might be an underlying condition of depression or anxiety that is preventing you from coping. Treatment and counseling can make a world of difference.

Savor each phase. Relish the sweet smell of your baby. Laugh at the crazy antics of your preschooler. Marvel at how much smarter kids are today than when we were in school. Enjoy the real conversations you can have with your teenager. Make memories in the small moments. It won't be like this for long.

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