I said it. The thought that dances through my head and taunts me every day. In sheer frustration, I growled out the sentence: “things were so much easier when you were little”. Instantly, I saw that my sensitive 9-year-old had drawn up his face and began silently sobbing. I crushed him with my words because of my own fears and sadness.
The truth is that I just don’t want the adventure with my children to be over. I want my kids to stay in the cute and cuddly stage forever. When a spray park was the greatest thing ever (even though I was there wrestling swim diapers and counting heads over and over). When a trip to the library storytime counted as the day’s adventure. Ice pops and the simplicity of a kiddie pool brought elated squeals of delight.
During that time, fixing their problems would include a colorful Band-aid with their beloved character plastered on every bandage. Friendships would happen easily and without judgment. Experiences were new and thrilling. We could watch the light in their eyes as the excitement of the adventure washed all over them.
Not to say those days were easy because they definitely were not — but they were my favorite. Being a mom is a job I never realized I wanted – until I had it. Now I can’t imagine life otherwise. But the days are in warp speed and I struggle to wrap my mind around the peculiarity of time.
Google memories make me cry (that’s just a hot mess of emotions). Looking at now-aged scrapbooks displaying my children toddling around is too much for me. Don’t even get me started on how long it takes me to recover from watching videos of wobbly steps, the sound of tiny voices that I have forgotten, and favorite toys that are now forsaken. The journal that carefully notates the firsts for each child, and the funny or cute things said and done, is now collecting dust.
Yes, I will be glad when I don’t deal with school, daily sibling bickering, or figuring out what everyone will eat at each meal. And to be honest, some days I fantasize about riding around with the sunroof open on something other than a minivan.
Even as a new mom, I understood and recognized the dreaded advice of enjoy them while they’re little because they grow up fast. I was trying to enjoy every single moment, but some weren’t the most enjoyable moments. The others were over while I was still in the midst of enjoying them. How do you hold water in your hands?
Of course, I realize that I will always be mom. My kids will always need me in some way, whether small or large. Perhaps I will even be granted the title of Grandmother in the future. But it’s the right now, and everything before, that is so hard to let go. It’s been the hardest but favorite years of my life.
Now that they are rapidly growing up, I have the sudden panic of what is next?
I see parents who have come out on the other side of raising their kids, and they seem happy and at peace with the moment they are in. I have inspiration from that, but find these in-between days so difficult. My kids are over the little-bitty stages, but not yet at the almost adult and fully self-sufficient stage.
I am a fish out of the water at this point. This is an awkward and confusing stage. God bless those of you totaling rocking it, but this momma isn’t, and I’m okay admitting that.
I’m flailing in a sea of lanky legs, weird conversations, and confusion I don’t even have the energy and desire to untangle. I want cartoons about rescuing pets back. I miss nap time being part of our routine. And for the love of mankind, bring back the homework that is on my level again.
Please know that I am not discounting the difficulty of the days with young children. I vividly remember the restraint it took to keep myself together when the parents of tweens shared “advice” stating that the days with babies and toddlers were easier. I was not having warm and heartfelt thoughts towards them at that moment as I wrestled my two toddlers running in circles.
Simply put — I’m not ready for that part of this child-rearing expedition to end. They aren’t babies anymore. There’s nothing in the world like snuggles, tiny voices saying how much they love you, and footprints that can fit inside your own. However, I’m aware that the goal is to work myself out of a job (but I will always be mom). I will grow as they grow, and we will get through this together, in hopes that one day I will gain forever friends in place of babies and toddlers.