This past weekend is a blur…not a total blur, but a blur nonetheless. From Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, my daughter Elizabeth and I had complete charge of my three grandchildren, ages 17 months through 5. My respect for my daughter Carrie and all young mothers has been increased immensely.

Sure, I was a young mother myself at one time, but when you’re in it, well, you’re just sort of in it, and you become accustomed (or I did) to the almost constant noise and neediness of youngsters. Someone always needs a diaper change, a glass of apple juice, a snack, a hug, a clean shirt, a book read to her or him, a game explained, a bath…and so on and on.  The little darlings’ parents came to pick them up Sunday afternoon and opted to spend the night and stay through Labor Day. It was a fun but busy time.

The reason we decided to keep Braden, Brooke, and Emma is that their parents, especially their little mama, needed and deserved a mini-vacation.  They spent a couple of nights in Charleston and did the tourist thing, ate in some classy restaurants, and slept uninterrupted for hours. Anyone who’s ever had a baby in the home will realize what a luxury that is! After my daughter Carrie returned Sunday afternoon, she and I had lots of opportunities to chat, and I found myself spouting off platitudes I’d been taught years ago.  Here are a couple: Life’s a tradeoff, and this too shall pass.

Life’s a tradeoff. No one has everything, at least not at the same time. If you opt to have little children, then you should know that you’re trading away peace of mind, free time, and discretionary income. As soon as you become a parent, you find yourself worrying and fretting about all sorts of issues. And guess what? That’s true even when they become adults. Many are the nights I’ve awakened with an issue that one of my three is dealing with on my mind. Free time??? HaHa. That’s a funny one. Fortunately, Carrie’s husband is a huge helpmeet, and they work together as a team to take care of their children’s needs.  Still, most of the daily nurturing and “maintenance” tasks fall to the mother.  Again, you trade free time and being footloose and fancy free for a season in life when your hours are consumed with the care of youngsters. And the money thing? If you enjoy getting your nails done, going on vacations, dining out, wearing the latest fashions, and drinking Starbucks on a regular basis, then that’s going to be curtailed after having children.  Get used to it. That’s your tradeoff. Children or peace of mind, free time, and money? Please don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE being a mother and didn’t really consider giving up these things as a sacrifice.

This too shall pass. This one’s been said so often that there’s not much to add. At the same time, we all need to be reminded of its truth. Sometimes we’re in the midst of a horrid, painful, or stressful situation, but tomorrow or next week or six months from now, things will be better. I once read a quote that went something like, “I have still bad days, but that’s okay. I used to have bad years.”  My message to Carrie and all young mothers is that one day your children will be adults, no longer “under foot,” but instead away at college, in the military, or living their lives in another town or state. Even while holding Baby Emma, she’s developing and changing in ways designed to take her away from us.  Enjoy it now, for this too shall pass.

No doubt about it.  Raising children is hard work, hard but also rewarding, fun, and occasionally even joyful.  Even now I can see Brooke twirling around my kitchen asking me to look at her as she did her “princess dance,” Braden as he sat quietly coloring at the small white kiddies’ table, and Emma as she stood with her hands folded behind her back, mesmerized by the tennis match on television. The weekend was a tradeoff. I traded time with the grandchildren for freedom to shop, read, blog, dine out, go to movies, work in the yard, and do totally self-centered things. And about that “this too shall pass” thing? Sadly, it already has.