A decade. That’s how long it’s been since my husband and I rode a bike trail. Before kids, hubby and I loved to strap on our helmets and explore new bike paths on summer evenings, Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons. Anytime the sun was shining, we pedaled and pedaled and soaked in the serenity of our Wisconsin landscape.
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?
Yep, that’s what it’s been, for ten years now. A wistful dream of days gone by. Because for the past ten summers I was first nauseous then rocking fussy babies then adhering to sleep schedules and feeding schedules and tricycle speeds. When our firstborn learned to ride her bike, little sister was still on the I-hate-this-helmet-it-keeps-falling-forward-on-my-head-when-I-lean-back-in-the-trailer stage, so our rides as a family were brief and often cranky. We never did get past the neighborhood.
But last week. Last week. Oh glory hallelujah! Baby girl had a full month of two-wheeler experience under her feet, and we felt confident she could keep pace with the fam. So we jammed the bikes into the back of the van, slapped on some sunscreen and headed to a wooded nature trail 20 minutes out of town.
It was magnificent.
In many ways I feel like this summer we have graduated as a family. Both girls are veterans of full-day school, both are swimming and biking and staying up late without meltdowns (usually). My husband and I are no longer raising little ones. We’re raising middle ones.
And I can’t help but think of all of you sweet moms who are this moment shushing colicky babies and chasing down toddlers and wiping poo off the sofa for the third time this week. You’re wondering when you’ll catch some rest, when you’ll wear a pretty dress without spit-up stains, and when you’ll get to take a shower without a bouncy seat stationed outside the tub.
I get you. I was you, not too long ago.
And I’m here to tell you, sisters—it gets better. Not easier, necessarily, because there are joys and challenges in every stage. Littles are physically exhausting. School years are emotionally exhausting. But I truly believe motherhood only gets better and better and better. Each year, each milestone, each lesson learned (the kids’ and yours), the rewards of parenting keep piling up until you have not only present joys but also treasured memories of how far you’ve come.
I saw it. I saw it on a bike ride.
Women used to tell me this—it gets better!—when I was in your stage, nursing babes and teaching colors. And I wanted to believe them, but part of me felt like I’d be stuck forever in this new normal, as if that’s what parenting is—spooning up mashed peas and playing Patty Cake. Surely that’s part of it, in the beginning. But there’s this whole world of raising older kids that comes next—and a realm beyond that called The Teen Years that would terrify me, were it not for so many mom friends who’ve lived the tale and today are able to encourage me from experience that high school can be such a wonderful time in the kids’ lives and mine.
And once again, I want to believe them.
I’m choosing to believe them.
Will you choose to believe me today?
It gets better.
You think you love your snuggly newborn now. Just wait until you see him kicking his first soccer goal. Your heart will burst out of your chest!
You think you love that macaroni art project your child brought home from summer VBS. Just wait until she earns that scholarship to the College of Fine Arts. How your momma pride will swell!
And you think that handsome young man in the cap and gown, or that beautiful young woman in the wedding dress, is the culmination of all your years of training, teaching, nurturing and loving till your head hurt. Just wait until those children lay their first babies in your grandma arms. I hear it’s a love like no other.
It gets better, dear moms. Because we belong to a God who, even in the midst of unavoidable trials and growing pains, continues to shower us with blessing upon blessing.
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (John 1:16).
So whether you’re biking the trails or stuck at home while the baby naps, join me in a little moment of praise to the One who gave us this gift of children. They will change your life—for the better.