There’s this shift happening in my family dynamic…no matter how hard I try to deny it. Sadly, I am no longer the parent of babies. I have BIG kids! Which means I’m wading into unfamiliar parenting waters just trying to keep from going under. Having all three of my kids home full-time for the summer is a brutal reminder of how things have changed. Is it just me, or is parenting getting harder the older they get?
When they were babies I was much more confident in my mom-ness. If they cried I knew it was probably one of three things they needed: to eat, to sleep, or to snuggle. Then as toddlers they were so happy with whatever I gave them to do. Everything was new and exciting for them. I was Mom Of The Year with every little craft project I put in front of them. But all of a sudden I have an 8 year old son who is smarter than I am (literally). Sometimes it’s like he needs to use his brain every minute of every hour or he gets naughty. There’s also my 6 year old son who is the quintessential middle child, constantly vying for attention. Using humor that’s sometimes appropriate, most of the time not. And my final hold out is our 3 year old daughter who keeps insisting she’s a big girl now and wants to do everything herself. I’m not going to say I won’t let her get any older…I’m just saying they better have my straight jacket ready the day she heads off to kindergarten. All three of my kids were just born like, a week ago.
I realize now that I have been grossly misinformed all these years. I was under the impression that it would only get easier once I was done schlepping around a diaper bag, once they were potty trained, once they were sleeping through the night, once they could tell me exactly what they need, and once they could entertain themselves for hours on end. Ha! Silly, delusional me. Easier? No. A completely different ball game? Absolutely. Here are some of my biggest parenting challenges now that my babies are no more:
Big Kids = Big Mouths:
Now that they’re older, my kids not only tell me what they need…they tell me everything they’re thinking. Just the other day my 6 year old said he’d rather go to day care than be home with me. (It felt like a dagger to my soul!!!) My 8 year old feels it’s his lot in life to engage me in a point-counterpoint “discussion” at least 593 times a day. I liked it better when they had a vocabulary of 20 words or less.
Being ‘Mom’s Mini-Van and Appointment Scheduling Service’:
I absolutely can’t stand to have an over-crowded schedule. Unfortunately these days it seems like all I do is try and sort out who has which practice, doctor appointment, dentist appointment, project due, or field trip on which day. And I only have two in elementary school! I realize I’m just beginning to climb this mountain. We used to have relaxing days at home to enjoy each other’s company. Now it seems like we’re trying to squeeze in dinner around soccer camp and swim lessons. Something tells me it’s going to be a long 15 years of this.
Behaving In Public…Will They or Won’t They:
When your kids are little you get this pass. If they’re having a meltdown at the store some other mom will look at you sympathetically and say, “Oh, I remember when mine were that age…” and you feel normal. But suddenly when they’re big kids and they act up it’s a direct reflection of your parenting. For the most part, my kids are well behaved and make me proud. But there are days…like the other day we had a real, non-family member, babysitter for the first time ever. One of my children (who shall remain nameless) decided it was a perfect time be as obnoxious and hyper as possible. I felt like the worst mom in the history of moms as I apologized to her and begged her to come back again. Thankfully she has agreed to give us another chance.
It’s become clear to me that parenting big kids is just a series of trial and errors, with a few successes thrown in here and there to help us keep our sanity. The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing…they’ll be lucky if they make it to adulthood without needing therapy. Wish us all luck!
This post was originally featured on Marie’s blog, Make Your Own Damn Dinner.