This week I shared this photo on my Instagram.
It sums up life with three toddlers pretty well: one is touching you, one is calling for you, and one is crying. In my caption, I said I’d write a book on the things I was never told about parenting, so we’re going to manage all of our expectations and start with a blog post.
You’re going to be touched.
Someone is going to need to touch you, climb you, be on you at all times. There will be days your husband gets home and the guilt washes over you because all you want to do is wrap yourself up in your bedsheets so no one can touch you the rest of the night. In fact, the touching will be so much that although it was your top love language prior to becoming a mom, it has been replaced by Acts of Service and Solo Trip to Target.
Rest Time isn’t for them; it’s for you.
When your kids age out of guaranteed naps, afternoons are going to get tough. Some moms are going to tell you how their kids still have Rest Time: at least an hour on their beds reading books (actually looking at pictures) in silence, but don’t worry. Your kids will scream bloody murder at that prospect and if you try to make a deal with them involving DQ StarKisses and screen time in exchange for Rest Time, they will thrash their little bodies and clock you in the head. Then the Holy Spirit will descend on you in the form of otherworldly patience and you will set them down and say calmly, “I can’t let you hit me. My job is to keep everyone safe, and you’re not keeping me safe.” And then they will go after each other. So you will pick up their little bodies which have suddenly gained an enormous amount of strength despite the amount of protein and vegetables they are decidedly NOT eating at dinner and wrangle them into their bunk beds, and then you will drastically reduce your negotiation demands (it’s called being realistic): they don’t have to sleep, they don’t have to stay in their beds, they don’t even have to stay quiet, they just CANNOT leave the room until the timer has gone off.
Then you’ll go downstairs and set a timer for 15 minutes and turn off the monitor to their room because you don’t care what mayhem happens in that room, as long as it doesn’t involve you. You’ll sit on the couch and stare at the wall (and maybe also your phone—no judgment here) and then 15 minutes will end and you’ll realize you haven’t heard anything and you’ll think, “maybe they fell asleep?” but don’t be fooled—your brain just blocked out the sounds of jumping feet. Then before you have a chance to go upstairs, you’ll hear a voice calling through the air register on the floor of their room, “Mom, can we come out now?” And you’ll feel ready to take it all on again, so you’ll say yes. Or you just can’t face them yet so you’ll say there are still 3 minutes left. Either one.
You won’t go back upstairs until bedtime, and then you’ll have to sit down because of what happened in there during Rest Time. It will take a while to sort everything back, but there were 15 minutes where no one was touching you, so it’s all okay.
Watching your kids sleep causes amnesia.
Don’t freak out; it’s not to a dangerous degree. But watching their full, piglet-like eyelashes flutter and listening to their hilarious snort-breathing will erase all the hard parts of the day. You will look at them and realize God didn’t design our bodies to need sleep because it’s good for us, it was to keep mothers from devouring their young. Watching them sleep will remind you of all the sweet, all the precious, all the funny little things about them that make you marvel, “Who is this creature and how did I get lucky enough to be their mom?” Then you’ll wander into your room and snuggle with your husband because finally, you can handle being touched again.