Before I get myself into trouble here I need to say, I LOVED having babies. They were squishy and delicious and watching them grow and change was amazing. Can I also mention that I am a baby person? If you bring a baby near me I will lunge to hold it. Babies are pure magic. There is something so fresh and romantic about a new life coming into the world. I swoon over babies in bonnets on Instagram, and hearing that someone is going to have a new baby makes me giddy with joy.
I remember looking into my daughter’s newborn face on the night she was born and not believing that this child would morph into an (almost) nine year old someday. It was impossible! How could this little five pound, tiny little thing become a real person that could walk and talk and form opinions? I couldn’t fathom it. I just wanted to soak in this time and cuddle her and ignore the fact that she would grow up.
Here’s the deal, though.
Babies and toddlers are HARD. For all the moments of complete baby bliss, there are a zillion moments of sleep training, potty training, teething, walking the hall in the middle of the night, tears (for everyone), unexplained sickness where you have no idea what is wrong because they can’t tell you, whining at your feet while you cook dinner, chasing naughty kids at the mall, zero time to yourself, vacations that don’t feel like vacations, etc. You get the point. I did all this and it was FINE, because when you’re in it you don’t realize how crazy hard it is because you see no end. And luckily, kids have a sensor on them that knows when you will lose your ever loving mind and they do something endearing and cute. This saved them on more than one occasion.
(Should I say that after all that, I will spend HOURS looking through my photos and videos and wishing for just one day back with my kids as babies? Just a day, though.)
Something magic happens when your youngest turns 5 or so and can start to function as a person. When they can put on their own shoes and buckle themselves in the car, and play in the backyard without you. You become a real person again. You can do stuff in the house and they don’t need you. You can bring them out to dinner and, thanks to years of jamming those manners into them, they can hang and be fun and it is enjoyable. You can go the the beach and SIT DOWN, because they can swim and play in the sand without you. They become people that you genuinely LIKE (be honest, how likeable is a 3 year old?) My daughter is almost nine (HOW) and having conversations with her is the best. I mean, who is this mini adult that comes up with the funniest stuff and can make me laugh like no other? Oh wait. She’s the same kid that sprayed a bottle of red Gatorade all over her bedroom one day in a fit of rage, and also the same kid that ate an entire container of diaper cream (spoiler alert: it’s not poisonous.)
I’m saying this to you. Don’t be scared of having older kids. Take each day as it comes and try not to panic about tween fights and school drama and homework (though third grade math is a killer…) Just know this, if you respect your kids and listen to them and parent them so they know there limits, they will be good people that you enjoy hanging out with. I genuinely like hanging out with my kids, they are amazing! I have loved watching them grow and become who they are, and I can’t wait to see how this changes in the next 5-10 years.
Life isn’t over when your kids go to school and get older. It gets better (I’ve written something similar before), and for those of you in the trenches with babies and toddlers, know this: All your hard work will be rewarded. Your kids will sleep through the night and be potty trained and survive the terrible twos. You will survive all this, too. The uncertainly remains, the never ending questions and doubt and fear is always there, but you will do it. One day at a time. And it is worth it.
I always say this, year after tear, but THIS is my favorite age. These kids of mine bring me so much joy, and I can’t wait to watch them grow and change.