When our oldest daughter turned three, we welcomed twins into our family. When the twins turned three, our last baby was born. For about six years, our family life revolved around colic, thousands of dirty diapers, playing Thomas the Train on the living room floor, and gallons of coffee.
Moms, you remember these early years, right? If it’s blurry, the disgusting smell of spit-up, the whirling of the breast pump, and the sweetness of those first baby grins might jog your memory. These infant/toddler years are so hectic, yet the hours of rocking crying babies creep by so slowly.
While in survival mode, I got some advice from moms in a different season. We live in a neighborhood where most of the kids are a few years older than ours. When I was sitting on the bathroom floor during those early years, trying to coax twins to use the potty, my neighbors were outside with their elementary-aged kids. When we would see each other at the park, they would mourn the busy-ness of their lives. “I remember those baby days!” they would tell me. “Believe it or not, your life will get even busier.”
Really? Impossible. Their kids were not only old enough to potty unassisted, they were old enough to bathe themselves. Fifth graders could read their own bedtime stories. First-graders could watch an entire movie without getting distracted. Or freaked out by the bad guys. Or freaked out by the squeaky noise their closet door made. These moms could reason with their bigger kids. Their parenting season had to be easier.
But they only said, “Bigger kids, bigger problems.”
Fast forward to this year, the year that has rocked my parenting world.
Our kids are turning 10, 7,7, and 4. All of the sudden, they’re big-kid busy.
Overnight, they’ve developed these huge personalities, they have all these ideas, and they are always going, going, going. They want to try it all: after-school clubs, activities at church, private lessons, and sleepovers with friends. This means I’ve been promoted from chief bottle-washer to swim team taxi, pool party lifeguard, and math-fact & sight-word tutor. Our lives have suddenly become one of those movies stuck in fast-forward.
You know what the difference is? Why this season feels so much more hectic than the early years did? Because the kids now have their own opinions. Organizing their schedules is like arranging the schedules of four unique adults.
The older moms were also right about “bigger kids, bigger problems.” My kids are struggling with learning disabilities, bullying, hurtful friend drama, and real-life disappointments.
Yes, they may be able to tuck themselves in at night, but it’s important for me to be there. This is when they ask the really important questions. I may not be rocking them to sleep, but I’m still in that same rocking chair, now talking about how we know God loves us and why He lets bad things happen.
While I am able to shower with a little more regularity, this season is rocking my world. It’s definitely the busiest of our lives.
I’m sure the puberty years will be easier…
Right, Moms of teens?
Christina Hergenrader blogs at www.christinasbooks.com/blog and writes Christian books for women. She lives in Katy, Texas with her husband, four kids, elderly Cocker Spaniel, and surprisingly-slow Greyhound.