Parents, if you have newborns or toddlers, everything feels beyond overwhelming. Trust me. I know. Because I’ve been there. There seems to be an endless need for something – attention, physical contact, learning – it’s all part of what we signed on for as parents. However, the difficult moments, when they are yelling at the top of their lungs or lying on the ground refusing to move out the front door, seem like they will never end.
I’m here to tell you that they do, and I also want you to know that it changes.
Now, as my children are 8 and 10, we’ve entered a new stage of parenting. Every age and stage has brought moments of pure joy and happiness, as every stage also brings stress, guilt and fear (this age is no different), but our pre-teen, post-preschool age that we are in right now is proving pretty amazing.
They are beyond easy to travel with, they are able to communicate (most of the time) what they need, when they are hungry, or if something is bothering them. They are fun people to play with and be around!
Now, this post isn’t one to tell you to slow things down, and appreciate each toddler tantrum or baby wake up in the middle of the night because it’s fleeting. If you are a parent, you already know that a) time becomes something you can’t control at all and it accelerates to a new warp speed you didn’t realize was possible and b) simultaneously, some days feel like they will never, ever end and you will forever be trapped in the most uncomfortable rocking chair with a child pinching your nipple while the toddler demands answers about why their crackers are upside down suddenly. You know about time.
You don’t need a lecture about enjoying the moments because while those tough times are there, for every age, you also know how your heart might burst from your chest at any moment, or that you get teary eyed at the silliest things your kids do. I know you know this. If you want to hear that there is something beyond the toddler tantrums, I will happily reassure you that there is (um, I’ll just gloss over how I think age 4 is the toughest ever, okay?)
Set aside the need and desire for time to slow down or for the tough moments to pass quicker. This post is to tell you that even as my kids gain more independence, even as I grow prouder and happier with the people they are becoming each and every day, even as they pour their own cereal before bed and complete their morning school routine without any intervention from me, I’m here to tell you they will still need you. And that’s what I want you to think about in the tough moments with the newborns and toddlers. Because the thought of them not needing us can be far too overwhelming.
Last night my 8 year old crawled into the bed with me. I didn’t even wake. And in the morning, after I allowed us to sleep in as late as we possibly could she snuggled in tighter and wanted just a few more moments in my arms. She’s perfectly able to get out of the bed and get ready for school herself, but in those early morning moments, she just needed me.
My 10 year old has more freedom to make decisions on his own now and is given space and opportunity to do so. But he’s still the one giving me a hug when he says goodbye in the school yard. He still wants to chat about our recent adventure and spend time recapping every moment while planning for the next. He still needs me.
Those are the moments we will remember as parents. In every stage, even as they grow and their need for us changes on a daily basis, but I’ve also come to realize that just like us, they want an extra long hug sometimes. I know they do. They will push away in their own subtle ways while they are growing but they still need us.
Those moments, the tough ones, feel long. They do even now when we deal with random angry outbursts or hurt feelings or the usual parental disciplinary decisions that are ‘completely unfair’ and that ‘ruin their lives’ somehow.
But that doesn’t change how we all feel about each other. They still need us. They probably always will in some way or another, we just need to be there for them. And really, when we are in those rocking chairs in the middle of the night with a newborn on us, that’s the same message and need as it is now.
We’ll always be there. I really want them to know that.