When I go out, 2 kids in tow, I generally enjoy the attention my little ones receive. Truthfully, what mom doesn’t like having her little ones “oohed” and “aahed’ over? I am not, however, a huge fan of the unsolicited advice I often receive. It generally comes from parents of kids, say, 7 and up and goes something like this: “Isn’t he adorable. Look at her eyes! Enjoy these moments because soon your kids will be mouthy teenagers like mine” or “They’re so sweet. Appreciate them while they’re little. Mine are older now and all they do is fight.”
I consider this a bit like receiving a backhanded compliment. I know it’s unintentional, but it’s a as if someone’s saying, “Your life is good…for now. Enjoy. It won’t last.” I always walk away wondering, “Is this my fate? Am I destined to walk up to mothers of young children, forecasting their doom?” Then I do a reality check and think about how easy it is to look at a little cherubic face, dimpled hands, and a gummy grin and forget about crying fits, nursing every 2 hours, and car seat hassles. This is human nature: we wax nostalgic about the past and bemoan the present.
Currently, I have a nearly 11 month-old and a 3 year-old. If you ask me on any given day which age I prefer, it will be different. When my second baby was a newborn, I couldn’t envision the next baby. Now that he’s older, I’m adoring the clapping, laughing, and crawling, and can easily talk about a future baby Farmer. Today, I am suffering from a lack of sleep because of the 2 pesky teeth pushing through baby’s lower gums and wishing this time would pass…and having second thoughts about giving up my sleep again.
I look at my neighbors with their teenage daughters who love spending time with their mom and think “It can be like that.” Yesterday, I told a 16 year-old boy at church that I hoped my son grew up to be like him. I’ve loved being a part of the past 3 years with my daughter and, while I will certainly mourn over the loss of her toddler quirks, I’m excited to see the girl she’ll become.
Today I simply want remember that, when I find myself grieving for the past and frustrated with today, that no stage of motherhood is perfect. It’s all a mix of challenges, joys, frustrations, and accomplishments. Every age has its madness and wonder. We wouldn’t bother otherwise.