Within the last month, I gave birth to my third child and watched my eldest graduate from middle school. Although I have moments of feeling all the way crazy for starting over again, parenting a baby with the perspective of having a child who’s all the way at the other end of childhood is a bit of a gift.
As a brand new mother, having an issue and hearing someone say “someday you won’t care about this” was a little like hearing “someday you won’t care that you got dumped by your 7th grade boyfriend” when you’re in middle school. Now that I’m usually the veteran momma in the new mommies group, I often end up thinking to myself, “wait, is that really a thing?” when it comes to issues like…
Reaching Milestones Early
It’s equally as exciting to be the parent who can say “my baby is only two and can write all his letters” as it is stressful to be the parent whose two-year-old isn’t doing anything but trying to drink out of the toilet. By the time they reach high school, barring any actual developmental delays, they can all talk, read, walk and pee on the toilet and no one in the world will know when they started doing it. Just because your child was the last one to learn to tie his shoes doesn’t mean he won’t be valedictorian, and just because he was the first one to count to 20 doesn’t mean he won’t struggle in algebra. And all of it will still be okay.
Stressing Over What Food They Should Eat
I breastfed and I made it a point to feed my daughter healthy foods. I even made ants on a log so that she would eat her celery. I still think it is very important to give your kids a good healthy start, but I’m not going to stress about the new little one eating the occasional sugary snack. At age 14, the number of things that my daughter eats that I actually want her to eat hovers somewhere around 0 percent. Once she and her friends started buying their own lunches I realized that whether they were raised on Pop-Tarts or organic apples, every last one of them was eating pizza and fries.
When your kids are little, you’re either side-eyeing those parents whose kids are acting up in public, or you’re embarrassed that you are that parent whose kid is trying to run around the restaurant. Now that my daughter is a teen, even though I think I have one of the sweetest teens around, she will at least once a week make me question her sanity. Teens come with their own special brand of crazy. Instead of judgment, you learn to have more sympathy for parents whose kids are less than perfect, and at the same time to give yourself a break. I’ve learned to embrace that my kids are more than a product, they’re people who, even with all the right tools, will sometimes make the wrong decisions.
Creating Childhood Memories
I planned this fun-filled trip with my daughter when she was about five years old that I knew she would always remember. Guess what she remembers from that whole trip? That I complained to the manager at a restaurant that there was a hair in my mashed potatoes. That’s all. If we didn’t have pictures she wouldn’t know that she had ever been there.
I’m not saying not to take trips. I’m saying to take the trip, not to plant the memory, but to enjoy the ride. Which is the main lesson I’m taking from having both a teen and a new baby: enjoy the ride, because of how quickly it speeds by. As soon as I closed my eyes it seems that I went from choosing between baby food brands to being almost face to face with boyfriends and driving and college, and knowing that one day I’ll have a 30-year-old and will be able to look back at those challenges and say “someday you won’t be worried about this.”
So for now, while I’m in the trenches with sleepless nights and diaper changes and moments that I want to cry from sheer exhaustion, I’m also learning to cherish the time that I’m holding my baby close to my chest and kissing his toes. I’m learning to treasure the moments when my new baby feels heavy in my arms, because soon enough they’ll have to again learn the process of letting go. And I’ve already learned that is a much heavier weight.