Dear Mama of Littles, Babies Don't Keep - Baby Chick
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Mama of Littles, Babies Don’t Keep

Mama of Littles, who is struggling a bit with this tiring season of life, babies don't keep. This one is for you.

Updated April 25, 2024

by Quinn Kelly

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Mama of Littles, who is struggling a bit with this tiring season of life . . . babies don’t keep.

I promise I was once like you. I was madly in love with my three little children but was greatly surprised by how difficult the simplest tasks were. Like running to the grocery store or even getting dressed in peace could be.

Don’t get me wrong, I deeply loved my life with my littles, but sometimes I looked at moms with older kids and wondered, “When is the day going to come when my kids seem older? Is raising babies ever going to get easier for me? Did those parents think the phase I’m in was hard, too? Or am I just weak?”

After all, I had been a mom for five years already, and it still seemed every one of my three children (five and under) felt permanently small.

No one felt mature.

No one felt like they should be left unsupervised.

And when I thought of families with ten children, I always felt inadequate.

How Do They Do It? I Just Couldn’t Imagine.

Because in my house of three littles (one day became four) — a tantrum from someone was never out of the equation. My lap was always full. My arms were always extended. And just getting shoes on the feet of my babes daily was more stressful than my most stressful college exam the decade before.

Did I even know what selfless meant in my prior season of life? Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. But this I knew—I did by that point. It felt like I was the poster child for what a life focused on others looked like. (You know, every other mom and I were in the same phase.)

Sometimes, giving so much of myself felt more exhausting than I was prepared for. I no longer related to the concept of having time to do my nails, read a magazine, or shop at the mall. And honestly, that reality just left me feeling worn down at times.

But guess what, sweet Mama, who is reading this and feeling like I have a camera spying on your life today? Maybe even spying on your thoughts, too?

Guess what, Mama, who needs a little encouragement during a particularly long day at home with littles who may or may not have smeared paint on your wall and spilled cereal in your pantry?

Babies Don’t Keep. They Grow Up.

The time is quickly approaching when you will walk into your house and see the preteen version of that baby who is at your feet at this very moment. It will stop you in your tracks and make you question the whole idea of time and life. Promise.

You will look around and notice the stuffed animals strewn about your floor right now are bagged up, and the train sets that once filled your carpet are now collecting dust. The Barbie dolls they are holding at this very moment will become cell phones in their hands. And the crayons that used to overflow from your cabinet will be tossed away without a second thought.

You will notice their requests for you to play with them switch to, “Can I have so and so over?” Instead of snuggling up to watch a movie with you, they will run to their room with their sibling and belly laugh at their favorite YouTube video. When you ask if they need anything from you, they will shake their heads no and gently shut the door with a smirk.

One day, much sooner than you think, sweet Mama, you will turn around in your car and find that everyone can unbuckle themselves. And instead of goldfish spilling on your car floor, their voices will be requesting fresh fish tacos from their favorite new taco shop downtown that they saw on Instagram.

Then, the one little child who always requested you to hold their hand at bedtime until the sun was fully down will easily walk up the stairs, crawl in bed, and fall asleep without asking for a goodnight kiss. This will make you proud, but you will desperately miss the fact that they don’t need you anymore to feel safe.

Sweet mamas, I guess what I’m saying is that even though it feels like your littles will never grow up. They will. Babies don’t keep. But, still . . .

Everything They Say About Parenting Is True.

Raising littles is exhausting.

 Raising littles is hard.

 But raising littles is also absolutely short.

And entirely fleeting.

And when you look back on it, it will feel like it lasted five minutes. Five minutes that you long for now when your house feels overly quiet. And when your time feels just a little too focused on you. Something you never knew was possible.

So, Mama, if your chaotic life today feels like it may never pass, remember it will—Pinky promise.

And before you graduate to the next phase of parenting with its own set of trials and tribulations, make sure you hug those littles. And laugh at their littleness in this entirely precious and beautifully exhausting phase you are in now.

Much love,

A Mama with Not So Littles Anymore

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Quinn Kelly Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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Quinn is a mother of four, licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the “Renew You” Podcast, and author of “Raising Boys: A Christian Parenting Book.” Throughout the last decade,… Read more

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