By Sarah Ingram
Today I made a healthy breakfast. Plot twist, my toddler actually ate it all. I cleaned the floors, washed the dog, and did two loads of laundry. I handed out snacks and filled water bottles. I sang the ABC’s one too many times to keep my sanity intact. Maybe you can relate.
When did that happen?
Then I sat down next to my daughter, as she was eating Mac n’ cheese (with peas) for lunch (where my hiding veggies in noodles mamas at?!). She lifted up her fork perfectly, scooped up a noodle, and ate it all by herself. Right into her mouth. Not a single piece fell on the table.
She’s two. I get it; she’s been doing this for a while. She has mastered the art of scooping ice cream directly into her mouth with a spoon, and she can even almost twirl spaghetti onto her fork.
But today I noticed it.
Noticing the growth
I noticed how not too long ago she opted for only mama to feed her. Then a short while after that she opted for a fingers-only approach. Helloooooo new and fun and spunky pincer grasp. Then she fell in love with her new tools—meet Mr. Fork and Mrs. Spoon—but most of the food would fall off and she’d use her hands to put it back on. Just forget it if it was spaghetti, might as well just put her entire head in her bowl. Then again, maybe she gets that one from me.
Now. Now you would never know that she once struggled with a fork, or preferred her hands. You’d never know most of her food landed on the floor instead of in her mouth.
I get so busy crossing off the mental to-do lists every day, I forget to stop and take it all in. I forget that learning how to use a fork is worth celebrating. I forget how fast they grow, and how much they learn. I forget to slow down and just watch her be.
I think this is a little like motherhood, too. I had (and have) a lot to learn. When my daughter Stori was born, “in the trenches” could accurately describe how I felt. Everything was nonstop and I felt like I couldn’t sleep or catch my breath. I had to keep another precious human alive. Help.
Hindsight is 20/20
Now I look back and wonder how using my fork was ever so challenging when I was young. I look back and wonder why just getting my baby in a comfortable breastfeeding position proved to be a twenty-minute endeavor. I wonder how I didn’t manage to keep the house clean because she napped how many times during the day. I wonder how I didn’t sneak more naps in for myself, or ask for help when I needed it.
Now I have a toddler and the game has changed, but I know a little more. I wouldn’t say I’m a motherhood expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not the mother I once was, questioning my every move. I know my comfort and my time will always be top on Stori’s list. I know the dishes are going to pile up, but the cuddles are fleeting. I know that no matter what, I’m always going to have a space in my heart that worries about her. And that’s okay; I just need to make sure my mental health is in good condition to manage that anxiety.
It's the small things that matter
I know that motherhood is the most challenging club I’ve ever been in. When we look back, we’ll gasp at all we’ve taught our babies. We’ll cry because we know they’ve taught us exponentially more about life than we could ever imagine.
We will start to notice the little things, like using a fork perfectly to scoop up gooey Mac n’ cheese. We will realize how special the ordinary is. We will know that it took magic and patience, and practice all wrapped up into one. We will know that these small, seemingly ordinary things are really quite extraordinary.
Mama, Your work matters.
It’s worth noticing.
Your work matters
You’re speaking life into a future generation. You’re nourishing a growing body. You’re creating healthy boundaries. You’re teaching, and bathing, and playing. You’re a nurse, a taxi driver, a personal chef, and a therapist. You’re doing so many things that I won’t even begin to list them all, but that doesn’t mean they go unnoticed.
Your work matters.
Thank you for all you do.
SARAH INGRAM (AKA THE WORD MEDIC)
Hi, friends. My favorite titles I hold are "mama" and "wife." I live in the beautiful state of Colorado, chasing my toddler and my dreams. I traded in my degree in Journalism so I could attend Motherhood University. I anticipate this will be a lifetime of education. I like bad puns, and every Dad joke there is. I’m a firm believer that what mom’s need most is their mental health, so we can show up authentically for our babies. It is my passion to write and forever learn how to be a better mother, for myself and others.