The Days are Long, The Years Short

When word got out that I gave birth to our first child, we were overwhelmed by everyone’s kind and congratulatory wishes. People seemed genuinely happy for us and inundated us with gifts. In the earliest days of motherhood, however, I did not always share their enthusiasm for my new status.

“18 years will go by so quickly,” other parents said. While I knew this to be true, in my sleep-deprived, postpartum head I could only retort silently: Yeah, right. That’s what the public defender whispers into their client’s ear during sentencing. I hated to admit it, but I could not see what was so happy and good about giving birth to this…thing…which cried and tortured me around the clock, preventing me from even taking care of my basic needs such as showering and putting on shoes.

After a week of paternity leave, David had to get back to work. I remember many afternoons when the crying would start just as I’m starting to prepare dinner. I would be holding the baby and trying to cook with my feet while staring at the clock and counting down the minutes until David walked in the door. Time invariably slowed down to a crawl between 5 and 6pm. Once he did come home, if he didn’t come rescue me within 5 seconds, I would practically throw the baby his way and dash out the door for a run. Jailbreak!

One time, my poor husband made the mistake of innocently remarking, “I would switch places with you in a heartbeat to be with the baby all day.” Wrong thing to say, Dad.

“What do you think I do all day? PLAY with this crying thing? You think this is fun? Do you? Do you?”

David’s eyes grew wide as I vented. He was bracing himself for my head to spin around 360 degrees. Yes, I was probably possessed, but between mastitis, sleep deprivation, and baby blues, who could blame me?

I used to be so capable at everything. What’s happened to me?

My life felt like a train that just took off, and I was just hanging on for dear life. I had never worked so hard in my life, yet at the end of the day there was nothing to show for it. I felt like such a failure as a mom and as a human being.

Miraculously, things eventually started to calm down. Several months later, I actually began to get the swing of things. A pattern started to emerge in my baby’s schedule. My life was not the same as before baby; it was different, but good. Maybe even better.

Each day still seemed to last forever, and I still couldn’t wait for David to come home. Then one day, I came up for air and realized that my baby was a year old. The next time I looked up above the haze, my child was in first grade. Then I blinked, and now Josh is an 8th grader, entering high school next fall.

How could this be?

Someone once told me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Only a parent could have recognized this fact.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

- 1 Peter 1:6 & 7

Somewhere along the way, while taking care of this helpless little baby, I was slowly being refined by fire. I learned to become a little less self-absorbed and a little more loving. A little less hurried and a little more patient. Less rigid and a lot more flexible. I’m still a work in progress, but I have learned that for me, becoming a mom has been a godsend. Perhaps He was rescuing me from myself. Thank you, Lord, for this gift of life!

Now I understand why people congratulated me when I had the baby. And let me pass along these words of wisdom:

The days are long, but the years short. Enjoy it!