Several of my friends are mothers of young children. Infants and Toddlers kind of young. This is one of the hardest stages of parenting. It’s messy, dirty, exhausting, wet, loud, and painful. Moms of young children are in the trenches 24/7 because even in the night they are still getting up with their children for various reasons. When my kids were this age, I recall a dental cleaning feeling like a full on spa day. I got to lay in a chair, with out a little person touching me, talking at me, crying, or needing me for 30 minutes! It was glorious despite the gross prophy paste and the scraping of my teeth and that my jaw was sore from staying open for so long. TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!!
So often I hear others tell these mothers to cherish this time. “Before you know it they won’t need you anymore.” They say this like it’s a sad thing. Like it’s sad to not have to be needed for every. single. thing. I remember people saying the same thing to me and sometimes feeling bad because I could not cherish that time. I did not cherish hearing my traveling husband tell me about the amazing meal he had with a client while I wiped our sons snot off of my neck and figured on a bowl of cereal for my dinner that night. I did not cherish cleaning poop out of the carpet. People poop. Not pet poop. No, I did not cherish potty training and the constant battle of wills. I did not cherish my oldest sons time of crying unless he was held and crying as I tried to make breast feeding work and crying because I stopped singing his favorite song.
When my sons were little they were cute and clever and funny! Mostly though, they were so, so, exhausting and gross.
Mothers of young ones: It’s ok if you don’t cherish this time. Before you know it they won’t need you anymore! Rejoice in that! They’ll be grown before you know it. GOOD!! Right now your living room is more of a playroom than it is a cozy place to visit and that’s exactly how it should be right now so don’t apologize for that. Guess what? It will only be that way for a short time and then you can have the living room back! You can lay on the couch and read a book! A 500 page book without pictures and without a child sitting in your lap who suddenly smells weird because they were working on making a poopy diaper while you read to them.
You’ll get to sleep in on the weekends. Yes! It’s real! The children might rise early but they will get up and make their own breakfast. They’ll turn the tv on themselves! You may wake up to find that all of the pets have already been fed as well!
Sometimes you will feel a struggle because you are so unneeded. They tie their own shoes, do their own laundry, make their own lunch for school…. They will STILL need you but in a new way! They’ll need rides. Lots of them. Everywhere. Their friends too. They’ll need advice. They’ll need you to advocate for him and to teach them to advocate for themselves. They’ll need you to just hang out and watch a show or to hang out and chat and OH! The things you’ll talk about! They will still be funny and clever and also deep and intelligent. Sometimes, they’ll still talk about the last Sponge Bob episode but then it’s on to philosophy and heart subjects. They’ll need you to remind them to shower, brush their teeth, and put on deodorant. No kidding. It blows my mind that this is a thing still at their age BUT I don’t have to bathe them, brush their teeth, etc. They do it themselves!!
I absolutely love my conversations with my sons and I love resting my head on my oldest sons shoulder when he hugs me goodbye every morning. I love watching them shoot up during growth spurts and giving them crap about their funky facial hair. I love their smart ass texts. I am not looking forward to them leaving me because I enjoy them so much right now but, seeing how each of these phases goes by so fast, I know that they will leave and then I can watch them go through all of these phases themselves. The hard ones and the grand ones!
I’m so proud of my friends of little ones! They are doing such a wonderful job! They talk to their babies like intelligent beings and not like tiny pets. They are teaching them manners, patience, and how to love others. They are teaching them to love and respect themselves as well as how to put on their shoes and to feed themselves. Good job, mamas! I know it’s so hard and it doesn’t feel like you are making much progress sometimes but you really, really are!!!
It is quite possible that you will still have to do everything for them. That’s why I encourage you, moms of littles, to hunker down into that trench and FIGHT! Do the hard work now. Keep focus on the goal of raising capable and independent adults and you will enjoy and CHERISH your grown up children.