My boys share a room. And, on Saturday morning, like clockwork, they are trained to tiptoe down to our basement, turn on the TV and be quiet until the rest of us normal people wake up. This past Saturday, they woke up, watched some TV and then when I went down to check on them around the more glorious hour of eight A.M. they were all smiles. I asked them to come upstairs and eat breakfast.
My eight year old made a waffle for his five year old little brother. He washed fresh blueberries and made a cute design on his plate, and added a piece of pepperoni on each side. He had created a little breakfast piece of art. Afterwards, he got himself dressed, and read books to my five year old in the living room.
I snapped a picture, because what mother doesn’t take a picture of those precious moments when siblings are being nice to each other?
My oldest, who is eleven years old, apparently woke up at 7am, and stayed in her room until 9 A.M finishing a Percy Jackson book she had just started. She came out all smiles with bed head and made herself some toast.
Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? I literally didn’t lift a finger all morning. My kids entertained themselves and each other, fed themselves and stayed quiet until about 10 A.M. I’ve been tempted to call this spot right now the sweet spot. It kind of is.
BUT, after that blissful moment of my middle child reading to my youngest? A fight broke out like it was world war III up in here, and the aftermath were pillows and books strewn all over the place, and two kids crying. Yes, I had those morning hours of bliss and “it doesn’t get any better than this” thoughts while I slowly puttered around the house, but I wouldn’t exactly call this stage easy, either.
My five year old is wild and rambunctious and fights me on bedtime every. single. night. He’s also adorable. But, he’s also infuriating. We struggle getting him to eat, he is so strong willed I think he’ll send me to an early grave. He also does not possess an inside voice. He left me for Kindergarten this year. It’s only a half day, but it’s leaving me feeling heartbroken and a little lonely for my side kick.
My eight year old is at a great stage right now. He’s pretty easy going and he is pretty self-sufficient. He’s also pretty drama free, until he’s not. He gets migraines, we struggled with school refusal last year, and he gets legit hangry to the point where I almost don’t recognize him as he rages over something simple like a worksheet of homework when all he needs is to consume a giant pizza at 3pm.
My oldest is entering the tween years. Oh boy. I love how she’s so grown up, and made us this for dinner the other night all by herself. But, her moods make me question my sanity, and the amount of hot water she uses when she showers is obscene. She’s teetering constantly between big kid coolness and little kid whininess. And, sometimes I’m still her favorite to snuggle with, and sometimes I think she hates me.
Sure, I’m in a sweet spot. But, I’m also in a really hard stage of parenting.
To an outsider looking in, my life might look like diaper free bliss, and no butt wiping central. But, to me, it looks like challenges I need to call my sister and cry about, and longing for chubby baby arms – but not wanting anymore babies.
Is this stage easier than the others? No. Is it just as hard as the threenager years or the terrible twos? Absolutely.
No, it’s not the same, but every stage is the hardest when you’re in it. Because parenting is not easy. I don’t care if you’ve been a parent 5 minutes, or for 50 years, I guarantee you struggle with something that wracks your soul, and tears your heart apart.
I was recently talking to a soon to be empty nester mom friend of mine, and she told me that her stage is really hard for her right now. She’s feeling lost, but also feeling really torn about letting her big kids make adult decisions. She struggles with knowing when to bite her tongue and when to let them suffer their own consequences.
I can’t even imagine. I feel for her, and while I envy the freedom she might have now that kids are out of the house, I have no doubt that her stage of parenting is the hardest.
But, so is mine.
We tend to hear often, “Oh my gosh the twos were the worst!” while another parent laments, “Threes were SO much harder!” Parents of babies often argue with parents of teenagers over who has it the hardest. “But no sleep!” the infant moms might chant while the older moms roll their eyes and say, “I don’t sleep either.”
I haven’t experienced every stage of parenting yet. But, I know this much – I don’t expect it to get easier. This parenting adventure is sacred, dirty, and tear-inducing no matter what stage you’re in.
So, let’s just agree that – Yes. Your stage of parenting is the hardest. And so is mine.
So…fist bump, my friend. Let’s hope we all survive.