“Get To” Vs. “Have To”

I haven’t been a parent for long, but I’ve noticed something about how the way I think about things affects my mood in relation to the hard parts of motherhood.

Everyone has a lot to say on how to go about the early days of your child’s life, but I had yet to hear anyone really explain it in a way that tangibly helped me. I understood my son will only be this little once, but I was still having trouble with people almost dismissing how hard some things were for me.

I think I’ve come up with my own answer for how to look at how difficult being a new parent can be and hopefully that answer can help other people too.

I had my first child, a boy, back in March and I couldn’t be more filled with love for him. But that doesn’t mean things are always easy.

He’s mostly sleeping through the night now, but at first, there were a lot of nights I would be awake with him into the wee hours of the morning. At first, between recovering physically myself and adjusting to all the changes a baby brings, I would get a bit irritated when he’d keep me up so late.

But I remember one night when we were up late together and sitting on the rocking chair in semi-darkness, I looked down at his tiny face when he suddenly smiled up at me.

And frankly, I burst into tears. His little smile was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and it was all for me.

I realized this was a special time with my baby that I would only have once. I can’t get those times back. Even only a short time later, they’re already gone since he’s mostly sleeping through the night now without long periods of waking.

I got to have those special moments with him all to myself in the quiet of the night when everything and everyone else was sleeping.

And once I quit thinking of it as “I have to get up and lose so much sleep”, things were much more bearable.

That doesn’t mean it stopped being hard.

It just means I had a reminder that these hard times were still beautiful in their own way and had a distinct purpose, as much as the easy times did.

Now, if something is difficult or I’m having a hard time, I remember to look down at my little boy’s face and know that every second with him is a gift that I shouldn’t squander. He might not remember every time he fell asleep on my chest, after fussing for what seemed like an eternity for us both, but I will. I’ll get to know that I consoled him, that I made that sleepy and content expression reappear.

I really think this applies to most areas we take for granted in our lives. There’s usually something hard wrapped up with something good and we have to see past the hard to get at it.

So the next time someone you love might be frustrating you, take a breath and remember how happy you are to have them, even when things might be hard.

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