Kailyn Rhinehart is sharing a story about the grace given and the grace received through hard seasons. Now you can find the Kindred Mom book, Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, wherever books are sold. Subscribe to the Kindred Mom newsletter and receive a preview of the book today! Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash
I walk through the doorway after putting her to bed. My husband is sitting down at his computer. Without a glance up from his screen he mutters, “Man, that was easy.”
It’s 7:15 pm and she is already asleep. A bedtime victory in the toddler-parenting world. Our collective sigh settles over the room and, for a fleeting second, the past seasons play out in my heart. The many nights we spent asleep on the thin carpet of the hard hallway floor outside her room. Exhausted arguments over whose turn it was to rescue her from the visions of monsters at 2 am. Months of tears. Resettling her overtired body each night. Taking turns in the turmoil. Trudging back and forth into her room, we tried anything and everything not to lose our sanity between the hours of seven and midnight, while our two-year-old seemed to lose every last bit of hers.
I smile almost bitterly at both the memory and my husband’s remark. I glance across the room as he looks up from his computer. His eyes meet mine. For a brief moment, we savor this bedtime of ‘easy’ together like a ragged victory after a war.
It’s night eight. Or twelve. I am huddled in the hallway, tears marking my face. It’s 9:15 pm and we’ve been at this for hours. Her face appears in the darkness of her doorway. I quickly turn away to hide mine. She yells anything she can think of to persuade me back into her room. My husband appears at the opposite end of the hall and reaches out his hand to help me up. He quickly rubs my back in silent solidarity and trudges into the battlefield of toddler sleep struggles. We are not unfamiliar with this particular scene. Five months—seven maybe—of that same once-colicky baby screaming from her crib. Screaming on my chest. Screaming in my arms. Screaming as her daddy came in to gently relieve me then too. I shift my body away from her doorway and breathe deep, enveloped in those faded, haunting memories. I hear him go to her; she wails even louder.
We are a team, hardened veterans of our daughter’s exhausting sleep patterns. I travel silently through the hallway. Defeated. Switching off the kitchen light, I hover in the darkness—in the fleeting false sense of calm—in our room across the house, I listen to my patient husband calm her. I think of the times he came to my rescue before, during those colicky, blurry months, and I am flooded with gratitude. A second later, I hear him quietly shut her bedroom door through the baby monitor. Victorious.
A twinge of guilt creeps into my heart.
I lay somewhere between the waves now, letting them crash over me. I come up for air more steadily and easily than I did before. In those seasons—the colic, the sleep regressions, the bedtime battles—I felt like I was constantly drowning. In those nights, it felt hard to breathe. I have nearly blocked out those memories now. Instead, I carry overwhelming grace for both myself and those within the walls of my home. Grace, cultivated only from the darkest depths of those seasons. Grace, through and from forgiveness. Grace that feels a bit like freedom.
It’s 8:06 pm. I sit down on the bed and settle myself next to my husband, enveloped in my own feelings and memories. The monitor hums with the playback of her sound machine. I glance at her toddler body, draped between piles of stuffed animals. Blinking back past memories, I am fully present. My hand finds its way to the top of my growing belly, and when I lay on my side I can start to feel movements and flutters. They will be three years and three months apart when he arrives in December.
To say I am terrified would be an understatement, but I firmly believe in the power of seasons. I believe in time and healing. I believe in the few years of experience I have been given as a mother, which has taught me more than enough to equip me. I dwell in the grace given and the grace received from the hardest of seasons. I am overcome with gratitude, despite knowing difficult ones will come again—a paradox dripping in redemption.
I want to fast forward to the unknown. I wish for a lens into the next seasons, the ones with this baby. I wonder if time and circumstances will repeat themselves. Will we hover in the hallways? Will the nights be filled with tears, with wailing and exhaustion? My brain and my heart compete for answers, for hope.
When he joins us I know our seasons will play out all over again; the new, the terrifying, the overwhelming, the draining. In those seasons, in sleep regressions, tantrums, and turmoil, we will give and receive grace.
And in those and after those and all the others, we will be okay.
Kailyn Rhinehart is a wife and mama to two littles, currently living wherever the military says to. She is a Kindergarten teacher turned writer, continuously learning the delicate dance of patience and grace in motherhood. Near and far, whether across the world or the street, she believes in the power of other’s stories and how they make us feel. A lover of lists, riding horses, and storytelling, you can find her on Instagram or her website.