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Someone — a wise person — once told me that when I’m old and gray, sitting on the edge of my bed, it’s not going to matter how clean my house was or how much I accomplished or how much stuff I had amassed. The only thing that will matter is relationships and experiences.

Having kids is great, sure, but to quote something I wrote elsewhere, “let’s not kid ourselves. This parenting gig is the hardest job in the universe. At times, backbreaking, mind-numbing, madness-inducing work. Just facing their shining, needy little faces in the morning can be a trial.”

You have to take care of you first, or you won’t be able to take care of him. Give yourself permission to just lay in the bed, whenever Tardigrade will let you. Forget the cleaning, the studying, the fitness — for now. You’ll get back to it, but be gentle with yourself in these years. And enjoy your moments with him, even if you feel like everything else has fallen by the wayside. One of the things that shocked me about my kids was how fast it went by. I remember when my oldest was a baby and I was at my tiny string’s end and I thought, “Oh my god it will be like this for the rest of my life! I’ll never get it together and will eventually dissolve in a puddle of mess and I’ll be no good to anyone!” It seemed like five minutes later that we were in the next chapter (it was years, of course — children have a remarkable way of erasing the years).

You’ve got this. It’s hard but it’s worth it —and it gets a bit easier when you let yourself off the hook about all the shoulds. Laugh at the mess, put all that shit on hold, and tend yourself. You’ll come out the other side stronger.

Sorry for this bossy two-cent rant, but this issue is close to my heart. I’m just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and my baby is 18!

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