the four most devastating and uplifting words

– Posted in: export, family business, motherhood, parenting, photography

There is something I tell myself quite a bit.

This something gets me through the rough patches. It sees me through certain moments of sadness or anger or frustration or despair. Speaking these words and letting the realization sink in raises my spirit up and up and up. Until I’m on my feet again. Until I find it somewhere within to keep going.

And it’s only four words that perform this magic-like trick. I say magic-like because they aren’t perfect. Sometimes the “magic” is slower to work and not always strong. But still, they work.

Here they are:

This is only temporary.

This is only temporary I say during every nauseous, draining first trimester I’ve experienced of pregnancy. This is only temporary I whisper at night as I fall asleep in a home that we’re renting, that isn’t ours. It’s just for a little while I think when I’m with the kids and Mitchell is working on the new house and I’m tired and lonely and parenting without him. This is only temporary I say when we have no family time together.

It won’t always be like this.

And all the other stuff that goes along with parenting? The sleepless nights, the teething, the potty-training, the seemingly endless breastfeeding, the tantrums, the growing pains, the overcoming? All temporary too. I’ve always known that. How else could I have four children with a fifth expected to join us this spring? I’ve always realized there was an end to the sometimes unpleasant parts. My children will only be this little and needing me for so long. Thank goodness.
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And I find comfort in that.

But This is only temporary has another effect on me. Because see, I don’t always wish time to pass. For things to be over already. I’d like to live in certain moments for much longer than just the moments they are. Because my children will only be this small for so long. Their needs will change. Our relationship will be different.
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I will miss that. Because it’s only so very temporary. When I get Oscar out of his bath and wrap him up in a towel and lay him on the bed and tickle tickle tickle. This is temporary.

Or watching Gus learn to read.

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Or growing a baby.

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Or a day off from school to play in the snow.
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Just temporary.

It won’t always be like this.

And in a way, how devastating is that?

No, the magic of this is only temporary isn’t perfect.  When I speak those words to myself I know that part is true. I know about its dual nature and I accept it. Okay, sometimes I fight it. But mostly I accept it.

What keeps me going is knowing more temporary moments are coming.

At the end of the day, that’s what comforts me the most.

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I'm mom to four and expecting our fifth child in May 2014. Five years ago I put down the key to my middle school classroom and picked up a camera instead. Now a part time photographer and freelance writer, I blog to share our stories and the joy I find as I go. For more on my abundance seeking philosophy, check out my piece on The Huffington Post

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27 Comments… add one

Carolyn Y
December 9, 2013, 4:32 pm

I LOVED this post because I’m the same way. I tell myself it’ll pass, but at the same time I mourn how fast time is passing. Bittersweet isn’t it?
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anna whiston-donaldson
December 9, 2013, 4:40 pm

So true, Sarah, so true. xo
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December 9, 2013, 5:37 pm

Yes to all of this!
I do find it more comforting than devastating, because there are always more moments to come :)
(I can’t decide which one is my favourite picture! They are all awesome!!!) xox
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Leigh Ann
December 9, 2013, 6:06 pm

Sarah, I have had these exact same thoughts. My difficult pregnancy while caring for 2 not-yet-2-year-olds was only temporary, but then again they would never be “just under 2″ again. That whole first year with two 2yos and an infant was only temporary, but then my infant wouldn’t be an infant anymore. I actually had a little flashback this morning to the days when I would put the kids down for a nap and then have lunch delivered to myself, and I got so nostalgic for that time of sleeping babies in the other room and stolen quiet moments to myself.
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December 9, 2013, 6:31 pm

Oh Sarah. So perfect. So true.
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December 9, 2013, 6:43 pm

It’s true… the bad and the good of getting through the hard stuff is that the good stuff goes with it. At least they switch off sometimes, right?
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December 9, 2013, 6:44 pm

Beautifully written and I couldn’t agree more with all of it. And the pictures are so sweet.
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December 9, 2013, 7:13 pm

It’s amazing, isn’t it? To look forward to temporariness (because it brings newness) even as we are saddened by temporariness as things change.

December 9, 2013, 7:55 pm

Sarah, this double meaning of “this is only temporary” hits me too. On a normal night (when everyone is home) we have four kids around the table. Two of our kids had a stomach bug this weekend so on Friday night when we are normally in the dining room having a boisterous Sabbath meal, my husband noted how quiet it was. This is how it will be one day, he noted. It’s hard not to wish for the quiet sometimes. But when it’s permanent? That will be a different kind of life Not bad, just different.
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Jennifer December 9, 2013, 7:59 pm

I’ve been feeling this so much lately. The second half… Last night Cady couldn’t sleep and was having bad dreams. I went to lay down with her, and all I could think was that soon, way too soon, she’ll be scared and I won’t be there because she’ll be off on her own, and I should really take every advantage to cuddle and hold while I can. I’m hoping that way she knows that even if she is 42 she can still crawl in bed with me when she gets scared. Always, always, always.
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Elaine A.
December 9, 2013, 8:10 pm

Those are definitely bittersweet words, especially for us mothers of little ones. You nailed it.

I’ve been thinking this with K a lot. She still wears pull ups at night but I am SO READY to be done with any kind of diapers, etc. and so I get frustrated with having to buy another HUGE box at Target. But someday there will be no pull ups and she’ll be off on her own…

Yes, this is only temporary… Wow.
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erin margolin
December 9, 2013, 8:42 pm

now i’m totally blubbering.
of course i started off reading, thinking this is MY new mantra… and then the kicker….

beautiful words, Sarah. xo
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December 9, 2013, 9:08 pm

This is so beautiful, Sarah. The pictures of your kids just hit me right in the heart. How I wish I had read this when mine were little and I was wishing each minute away. xoxo
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December 9, 2013, 10:12 pm

The dichotomy of time, how fast it passes, and how slow it goes, cuts me every time. When the children go nutso on me, I ball up my fists quietly and think, this too shall pass, this too shall pass. Until the next moments when things are as they should be, and inside I am dying a little, knowing that this too, shall pass.

Loved, loved, loved this, Sarah.
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December 10, 2013, 1:53 am

I say those words all the time too. More so, it seems, with this little guy than with my girl. I think because this time I know it’s only temporary. And the love-hate of the temporary gets me every time.
Tricia recently posted…A flash of a moment in timeMy Profile

December 10, 2013, 2:07 am

Oh time. It is so two sided. It flies and it crawls and like you, I tell myself this too shall pass and then I stop and think. Oh no, to not have little hands to hold might be my biggest fear aside from something really terrible. Is this one reason I don’t feel done? I am sure. 100% certain. It is not the only reason, I just find these days so very precious.

This is a lovely post.
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December 10, 2013, 3:49 am

So well said. I heard a sermon just a few months ago that was similar in meaning, using the phrase “This too shall pass.” I had always used that phrase to remind myself that the tough times wouldn’t last forever, not thinking about the double-edged sword of time. So many good things pass, too, but I guess it’s that balance that makes up life. Hopefully when we recognize that the good times are as temporary as the bad we can stop to appreciate them just a little longer. This post is so meaningful – thank you for sharing it.
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Eli December 10, 2013, 9:51 am

We dads are stellar at living in the moment (or cursed for not having much insight, either/or), but I definitely recognize the dichotomy. I know this is only temporary when a Disney Channel show begins *ugh*, but also when my 9-year-old runs to greet me at the door when I get home.

I know this is only temporary when my new teen says something mean, but also when my oldest giggles while reading my blog.

Such a beautiful post. I anticipate my following will be more than temporary, though.
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Lady Jennie
December 10, 2013, 12:55 pm

This is really beautiful. You have such a gift with words and with photos, and the combination of the two is stunning!
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December 10, 2013, 3:00 pm

I love this. I struggle with my daughter growing up and try to soak in all of the moments I can. And as far as the moments that aren’t so wonderful? I love your words, it’s not temporary. It does pass.
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December 10, 2013, 8:17 pm

Oh how I have felt this same thing SO SO often. When I had PPD, “this is only temporary” was my mantra. And now as I catch myself watching tiny moments I catch my breath with the realization that “this is only temporary”. This was a beautiful way to put it. You have the best heart, my friend. Motherhood is amazing and hard.

December 11, 2013, 1:44 am

Oh, I love this.
This. This is motherhood, isn’t it? I didn’t realize it coming in, but that balance of wishing the hard moments away while clinging to the precious ones – it gets me every time.
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Tommie Duffy December 12, 2013, 12:02 am

i dont use phrases like tickle tickle tickle, but i say stuff like, i gotcha, or im tickling you while i get his balls, or ill tell him what i’m gonna do b4 i do it then i do it. like i say im gonna getcher balls, then i do it. it turns him on. i dont say the word tickle too much or repeat it over and over like some girls. i have on occasion made a noise that is not a word at all. its sort of a sound like a high pitched tongue vibration that we make sometimes when tickling someone. its kind of funny and easy to do. just put your tongue up to the roof of your mouth and make a high pitched tone and let your tongue vibrate as the air goes out. he seems to like that.
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Erin December 12, 2013, 4:01 am

Growing up, my mom would always tell me during tough times, “This too shall pass.” I never thought about the fact that she might have been saying it to herself as well when my sister and I were driving her crazy! I still tell myself that when I need a pep talk.
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Sarah December 13, 2013, 10:05 am

OH girl! You left a comment! Yeah, she was probably trying to keep herself sane…. :)

Heather December 12, 2013, 3:24 pm

Beautiful post. It’s like “this too shall pass” in a way. And then we probably will miss those days. For me it’s the breast feeding that goes on forever, although it’s a special way to bond with my son.
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Runnermomjen December 14, 2013, 3:32 am

Oh gosh, Sarah…so so true. Devastating and beautiful and time passes so quickly and so slowly all at once some days.
Beautiful photos, beautiful words.
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