“This, too, shall pass.”

“It’s just a phase.”

As moms, how many times have we heard these lines from well-intentioned family members and friends when we are struggling with a difficult aspect of parenthood?  

Usually, our advice-givers are right. 

It’s easy to give advice looking in from the outside. But when you’re in the middle of one of these “phases,” it’s hard to see the end. And it’s exhausting. Can you recall your most challenging phases as a parent? A kid who won’t sleep? Potty training nightmares? The terrible twos? Picky eaters? Tantrums?

We survive these challenges, although it’s not easy. 

I recall vividly some of the most challenging times I faced as a new mom. Thinking back, it’s hard to forget the “witching hours,” as we affectionately called them, during my son’s first six months of life. Anytime after 4 p.m. was game. He’d begin screaming, and I was home alone, swaddling him and bouncing him on an exercise ball in an attempt to get him to stop crying. Every. Single. Day. When my husband came through the door, I would toss my son into my husband’s arms and then have a good cry myself. At the time, I couldn’t see beyond it.

As that phase ended, soon enough another phase began. My son refused to nap in his crib. I had to take him out for a walk in the stroller, rain or shine, to get him to nap. I definitely got my steps in, but rainy days were hell and caused me a lot of stress when we were off our outdoor-stroller-nap routine. A long car ride with him was my backup plan. Looking back now, I should have enjoyed all the exercise I was getting on those walks! Eventually, he napped in his crib, and that phase was over.

You get the picture. It’s always SOMETHING.

After years of being a great nighttime sleeper, our latest phase for my almost-8-year-old is his refusal to sleep in his own bed. I’m in the throes of this phase now, and yes, it’s killing me. I blame the pandemic for his recent anxiety. (When in doubt, blame 2020.) I ask my friends for advice. I call my mom. I Google. I reach out to parents in my local Facebook parents group. I Google some more. I commiserate with my husband over different strategies to help my son sleep at night, from bribery to rewards to consequences. But I think I am almost making peace with this phase, as exhausting as it is. Yet I long for a good night’s sleep without being woken by an anxious child.

If you are going through a “phase” at the moment — no matter how frustrating it might be — remember, your child is a sweet, loving kid trying to navigate their way in the complexities of our crazy world.

This, too, shall pass. And then we’ll be on to something new. And maybe I’ll never be prepared for whatever the next phase is. But that’s OK. Because that, too, will pass.

Cheryl Mastrogiovanni
Cheryl is a native of Salem, MA, and now resides in Arlington with her husband and son. A graduate of Boston College, she has been a high school counselor for over 20 years and enjoys helping seniors navigate the college application process. A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, Cheryl began attending hockey games with her father in the original Boston Garden at the age of 8, a tradition she is now sharing with her son. Cheryl published a children’s picture book about the Bruins, and is also passionate about soccer, Cape Cod, all things Italian, and spending time with her family. As much as she loves to travel, she equally loves coming home. Loves: playing soccer on the weekends, GOOD pizza, hot summer nights, '80s music, sneakers, and being organized Dislikes: long meetings, loud noises, messiness