Sitting with one of my long time friends, she began talking about parenting and her two little ones. She has a two and a half-year old and a ten month old. “Does it get easier?” she asked. She asked this and I reflected back to the time my first child was placed in my arms. It was so foreign to me and the years seemed like they would never pass. Becoming a parent was a change to me and so was my life. There are some that it seems motherhood and parenting comes natural, for me, it was a bit different. Perhaps, because I never paused to think about my life with kiddos? I am not sure. Though as I thought about it in those brief moments as my friend was waiting for an answer and I saw my eight and a half-year old playing for the most part independently and being okay doing that, my answer to her was yes, it does get easier in some ways. As children start growing you see their inclination to want to grow up and it’s a proud moment and a sad one too. Dependence of children when they are young can be so very draining on a parent. I have three children, each about three years apart, so I never encountered children that are really close together in age. I can see how that could be a bit more challenging. Some days as parents we feel as if we are being pulled in so many directions. Fatigue and tiredness set in and any kind of break is welcome and needed. It especially becomes a little more difficult when there is a lack of family support or limited help around. Not that having some else take care of your kids is what you are looking for, just a break, a moment to breathe, to regroup is a great gift. As a parent of young children, from ages 0-5, some of the things I found to be helpful during those “Does it get any easier” days:
- Get your kid or kids outside (summer is great for this of course but winter works too! Kids love the snow!)
- Read books for ideas on how to communicate with your little one. A couple of my favorite books are, Happiest Toddler on the Block and Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp
- Get the craft materials out. Kids love to get messy.
- Bubbles, kids love bubbles
- Have fun with them and give them structure. Visit my Build ME Blocks website for ideas.
What do you think? Does parenting get any easier as kids get older or does it just change?
“Mommy when are you going to have another baby?” my soon to be seven-year old daughter asked me. “Olivia is our baby, she completes our family,” I gently told her. The conversation continued on with something about her having six kids, then eight and then down to two and me saying something like, have as many as you feel you can handle. Rocking my baby Olivia Mae to sleep, a somber realization crossed my mind as she fell asleep without being nursed and our/my final weaning of a nursing baby comes to a close. My realization was that the day would come, my baby and I would separate from our nursing days an continue on in love and enjoyment of one another. What I didn’t fully anticipate was the mourning of closing my womb and never having the miracle of life grow within my belly. Snuggling Olivia Mae close, she wiggled at my slightly more smothering love. Wanting to remember her as a baby, which she hardly is anymore in the age range of things. We will be celebrating her birthday on August 12. She will be one. Holding her close I remember the first time I held my own baby. An unimaginable feeling. Looking at him now, he is almost ten and I can hardly believe it when I look at him. I am scared as he grows and as time passes. I am scared because he is getting older and so am I. Have I taught him the things he needs to know, will he grow into an exceptional man and be kind to those he comes into contact with? Will he know how to fight the battles that he faces–the unkindness and cruelty of the world–without being broken. But then to be human is to break once in a while but not to break too many times–hopefully, though to grow majestically with each of those breaks. Rocking Olivia, she touches my face as if to ask what are you doing and why are you holding me so tight?. I just want to remember her. I want to remember each of my babies. Time passes–so slowly but so quickly at the same time. Advice from Mothers and Women who have been there, “Enjoy them while they are little, it seems forever but it passes so quickly. You will long for these days.” Is that possible? When days seem so long and so busy and so tiring. When I feel like I am at my breaking point. Will I long for these days? Though it is hard to admit, I think I might have to agree, I will long for the days of my little ones. Not so much the yucky stuff like sick tummies or things like that but watching them grow and smile and walk and talk and becoming familiar with their world and recognizing they are alive and to live is for their joy. I sit down with Olivia, wrap her in my fleece, I don’t have one of her blankets around. She stirs, she moans, she wakes, I stand up, rock her, she rests her head on my shoulder. She is comfortable. Should I put her down to sleep? She is peaceful. No, I want to hold her, I am still not done remembering. Remembering how stubborn my oldest daughter was to be born and how fast my third child came into this world and the excruciating pain I felt with his birth. And with Olivia how, yes, I am a wimp, did not want to feel that pain again and chose to be induced. Remembering when she was born how tiny she was and what a miracle she was! Physically my body was worn during my pregnancy with Olivia and each day I worried that she may not make it into this world. Wondering if I would experience holding one of my newborns again and how I yearned to hold her. Grateful, she was born and I was able to hold her. I really thought she was going to be a boy but she wasn’t she was my most precious little newborn girl. Each baby miraculous in their own right. Each so different and each I hold in my heart the feeling of holding their little bodies next to mine. Never really thinking about having children or how many I might have, I am thankful for each one of their lives and the experiences I received from each one. Closing the chapter on my baby bearing years, I mourn that time and look forward to this next set of years that lies ahead while keeping my babies snuggled in my heart.
What was your experience when you knew you were done having children?
Sitting there at the edge of the bed as my three-year old is falling asleep for nap time, I glance to the closet and see my nine-year old’s old gym shoes, sitting there, still, nothing happening. Looking at them, I think of the life my son gives to this object, he runs, he jumps, he ties them. He has used them, they have holes. He is so hard on his shoes! I can hardly believe it. Scanning the objects around me, the books, the beds, the blankets,etc. Amazing the life we bring to them. Amazing the memories we keep from them. His sweater, I take it down, it is blue, zips up in the front and I can picture him as a three-year old. Emotional, tears form and I think he will never be three again. Continue with the closet clean out, I am about to give this simple sweater away, no, I am going to keep it for 30 more years. His son will wear it. Maybe. Years ago before having children, I came home from work, my husband was traveling, alone, I was sitting on the couch, staring at the blank t.v. and thought how we give so many inanimate objects life. Without our existence they mean nothing. They are things, they sit, they don’t move. We move, we live, we give life. Objects they help us form memories, feelings, thoughts. My mind, returning to his athletic shoes, grateful they were sitting there and grateful for the journey of an inanimate object.
Oh, I had a million things I could do, catch up on work, dirty dishes, sweep, pay bills, you know where I am going with this. And, there are many days that I do this. The kids were upstairs, content, no squabbles, no he did this, she did that, no tears, no screams of horror that need saving from mommy. Everything pointed toward relaxation time, a time that comes sparingly. Instead, a wild idea enters my thoughts to play with my three glued to the tv–hence the quietness–kiddos. Leaving the computer, thinking it is so very quiet, what am I doing, I enter the room. “Do you want to play a game?” They looked at me as if the Mom they knew had been captured by a magical creature (clarification, we do play games and this was not the first ever suggestion of playing games). They asked, “What game?” “You guys choose,” I said. We cleared some room so we could play Dizios. I played working to block out the things to do all around me. Many times I sit down to play and end up in my own game of pick up (better known as cleaning). Not today, today my full attention was with my kids. We played 30 minutes or somewhere around that time frame. Those 30 minutes could have been used to tackle many other things though I would not have ever had the moment–those 30 minutes of time with my kids.
Have you ever had an experience like this?
Endurance. “With a little endurance, you will make it through.” A phrase I have heard many times. I agree, put your best foot forward and plow through the deep waters of whichever circumstance may be weighing heavily at the time. Though today, I was given a different perspective on enduring. Often times when I think of endurance, I think, wow, I must complete this whole big challenge and come through it with flying colors and feel a deep sense of happiness at the end–after I have endured for so long. Enduring, It can be such a cumbersome world that can suck the energy from you along with the fun and enjoyment of life. When I hear the word endure, I can feel my anxiety and panic heighten, knowing I am in for the long haul and that even at the end of it all, I have found other things that need my endurance too. This endurance thing is a lifelong battle it seems. And, a dreaded phrase most of the time. Though, today, today, I was enlightened, I was relieved of my imperfection and the necessity of battling endurance. Today, I have been able to take the word endure and see the positive, happy side of the most dark word somedays. Today, I learned that enduring can be for a few seconds, for an hour, for a day, for a week. It can be adjusted to you and the amount of energy you have to get through the rough waters of life. Much of the time when big goals are holding our for achievement, they become a drag, boring to do and the end gratification seems so far off. With this new view on this word, these achievements seem attainable. Getting through a hectic day with kids, pressing financial burdens, the idea of eating healthy every single day to achieve a fitness goal, health challenges, emotional challenges, spiritual challenges. Today, I learned to endure is adjustable to how much you can handle and take. It is there to nudge along, for encouragement and to realize, yes life is achievable.
Jack’s Five and Ten, Grape and Orange Popsicles and 1 cent fortune gum—the best gum—memories of the past but history of the future. Instead of sitting in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway, we decide to take Cumberland to get us into the city. We hit the city and the neighborhood, streets and areas become familiar. 2543 N. Kilbourn, we are by the first house I remember as a kid. It’s actually and apartment. My parent’s help manage it and took care of the tenants. It is where my sister and I ate our neighbor’s fundraiser Tootsie roll tubes. They looked so inviting in those tubes with the slots at top. Mom was not impressed. “I am going to have to pay for all of those.” Her words still clear nearly 30 years later. I thought to myself, we ate almost all of them. “Oh no!” The backyard comes into view and I remember my childhood play: “I knew a senorita with diamonds in her hair,” my favorite black shoes, the tons of stairs that led down into the back common yard. The garage, the ally. We continue on, “that is the high school you would have gone to if we didn’t move.” Mom says. Kelvyn Park we come upon next. Sprinklers, Metal swing horses—not sure if they were trying to eliminate kids because these swings though fun were deadly! 2825 N. Kenneth, my favorite house. My Mom loved this house. Creativity would sneak in on cold days—tape recording my favorite songs of my favorite station B96. Snowy days Barbies would visit Alaska right out the window of my bedroom. Down the street childhood memories return like the sun on a bright day: neighbors, tragedies, kids and kid stuff. At the stop sign we turn left, Barry Elementary, the grammar school I attended until 6th grade. “Look,” I say to my kids—“that is my grammar school.” “That looks creepy,” they say. I laugh, “you should see the inside.” Past the ally my mom would walk me through when I called home from the office, sick for the 5th time that week. I am lucky she did not follow the “Boy who cried wolf” fable. Teacher problems, I wasn’t really sick. Being a kid seems like a different world as my mind travels back to my childhood. Looking back that different world was forming much of who I am today. Life lessons were learned, fears faced—conquered and not, consequences paid, milestones met. “Mom, I have to pee,” my three-year old bursts out as we are driving. Where will we stop, the neighborhood has changed so much since my childhood, we found a restaurant behind my grammar school. I had not walked near that school in years. A zap, the memories. My kids, our kids, they are in the midst of their childhood. Inventions, technology has increased the speed of life. That is my philosophy anyway. Kids, they are so eager to grow up faster. I am old school I suppose, I say be a kid, cherish your childhood, it only lasts just a short while and “the little years pass so fast.” These are famous words, I hear them all the time. I have no rebuke. I am seeing my kids grow before my eyes.
My heart and prayers go out to those kids whose childhood is less than a childhood in any way. I know that in certain circumstances…childhood can be less than optimal.
I look at him as he sleeps. I think to myself, is he really mine? He was a newborn just yesterday, in reality yesterday was 10 years ago. He sleeps and I slip back into his baby years, my first born. The time we spent together–he and I. Reflecting on one of my most favorite traits about him, his smile and infectious laugh. I prayed he would always keep that with him and not let the weight of the world turn on a frown, that he would push through his challenges no matter what they are. Looking at him, I ache for his struggles–the battle that he fights. A fight where I can be in his army and walk with him in his battle and be his backup where needed. Feeling what he feels will never be a superpower of mine. To walk in his shoes will be as close as I get to his fight. I will battle with him on his journey. I will be happy as he meets his successes. I will stand in his corner as he meets his childhood battles and then some. Patience and understanding will be a battle tool of mine that will be sharpened. Answers will be the treasure. The goal to help him fight his battles while he lives a great life!