Friday, November 6, 2009

Does it Get Easier?

When my boys were little, I hated it when moms with older kids would tell me that it doesn't get any easier. Seriously ladies, your kids are in school 7 hours a day. You have time to go to the gym, eat lunch with friends, work, go to the bathroom in piece, sleep through the night. I was in the land of middle of the night feedings, changing diapers, having to carry one baby while corralling a toddler through the parking lot at Target. It took me a few years to discover the joys of the YMCA childwatch program so I could actually get a few minutes alone, though I did have to exercise. That was how desperate I was for a few minutes to listen to my iPod and read entertainment magazines. Desperate enough to spend 30 minutes sweating on a treadmill or elliptical trainer so I could breathe for a minute. So don't tell me it doesn't get any easier. It had to get easier. My boys would eventually go to school, my lifejacket in stormy seas. And I have to say to all you moms out there who don't think it gets any easier, I respectfully disagree.

Here's the thing. I think the early years of parenting are a lot like childbirth. The second it is over, you forget the pain, the months of swollen ankles and nausea, the hormones and then the actual pain of giving birth to a nine pound baby with a huge head without any pain medications. You see that little baby in your arms, and high on the birth experience, you are ready to do it all over again. I think that is true of the baby years as well. Once my baby turned two, I felt a weight lift a bit. And now that he is almost three, I am starting to see the light at the end of the life providing stage of parenthood. I still have to provide the food, but in a pinch, Little One has proven he can get his own grown up yogurt out of the fridge, take of the lid, grab a spoon and start eating. He can get in and out of his crib (yes he is still in a crib) on his own so on Saturday mornings if his brothers are up he can go down and watch cartoons while his Dad and I pretend we can't hear them and keep sleeping. He doesn't run into the street, can find his own blankies and in a pinch wipe his own bottom. He still very much needs me, but it is less physically exhausting now. And it is less immediate now as well. He can wait patiently. He won't fall off the changing table if I look away for a second. He is going to wake up each morning. He can play with choking hazards. I don't have to be on guard at all times any more. I can take my eyes off the ball for a minute and relax.

But it doesn't get any easier they said. What I am finding is that while it is less physically exhausting, it is still a challenge. Parenting starts becoming much more of a mental challenge. There is no way to know if you are making the "right" decision. It is a much more grey world as they get older. And the really scary part is that at some point, I no longer even get to make the decision. As my boys are getting older, I have less and less control. I am having to let go more as they grow up, heading out into the world for longer parts of their day. When they were babies, I was exhausted because I was always in charge, always in control. And now I am spending a lot of time worrying about their decisions, fretting about how the world will treat them, and praying that God will love and protect them. I am losing control.

So whether or not it gets any easier depends on how much I need to be in control. Honestly at this point in time I am ready to let go of some of the control. I am tired of juggling all the balls and would love to let someone else carry the load. Where to find Mary Poppins?

So for me, the boys getting older does involve more heartache, but I know that God loves them more than me. I know that God a plan for their lives. And I know that God is in control. What great comfort.

1 comment:

  1. So far, for me, this new stage (11 year old) "emotional pre-teen stage"--- has been the hardest yet. How do you parent the melt downs that don't have to do with not getting your way, but instead have to do with someone hurting your feelings, with doing something you knew was wrong, or for missing family members--- real emotion. This is MAJOR new to me--- and this new stage is hard! Not that the early stages didn't have their challenges. Potty training was never easy for me! Anyway... just as when I was a new mom...I am making my way, one day at a time with the Lord's strength and wisdom! ...sounds like you are too :)