Last week, Dave and I were talking about the fact that we are basically halfway in our parenting journey to fairly independent, school-age children.
You see, we’ve been parents for almost 6 years now… and in another 6 years (assuming we don’t have any more children after this next baby) our “baby” will be almost 6 and heading off to Kindergarten!
So we’ve made it halfway!
Halfway through the newborn, baby, toddler stage where they need us for EVERY. SINGLE. THING.
Halfway through the sleepless nights.
Halfway through the potty training, wetting the bed, changing their pants 7 times a day stage.
Halfway through the terrible twos and threes (although I personally don’t think they are all that terrible)!
Halfway through the stage of 80 billion “whys” for days and weeks on end.
Halfway through the stage where someone ALWAYS walks in on you when you’re going to the bathroom, or wakes up and needs you when you’re taking a shower.
Halfway through the stage of lugging diaper bags, strollers, pack ‘n plays, high chairs, booster seats, and car seats everywhere we go.
You get the idea!
In a way, the last 6 years have been the hardest, most challenging, most exhausting, most frustrating, and most humbling years of my life… and in many other ways, they’ve been the most fun, most silly, most cherished, most enjoyed years of my life.
I’m not planning to rush the next 6 years — nor do I think I glazed over the past 6 years. I just think it’s interesting to note that in many ways, our family is officially halfway through the “little kid” stage of life.
Most of the time, that realization makes me SO HAPPY… but in 6 short years, when I’m actually standing in the hall after my little girl walks into her Kindergarten classroom for the first time, I know it will feel bittersweet.
I do realize that in 6 years, our lives will be filled with completely different challenges, exhaustion, frustrations, busyness, stressfulness, and most likely humility… but that isn’t something I’m worried about just yet.
For now, I’ve got roughly 6 more years to be with these small people who sometimes drive me absolutely crazy… but most of the time find me wondering how I got so stinkin’ lucky!
They say “the days are long” — boy are they ever…
They say “the years are short” — I’m learning this is also true (but in a good way!)
I think it is virtually impossible to grasp how quickly time with little children flies by until you are well on your way to bigger children. I knew it would go quickly, everyone told me it would go quickly, but wow, do the days ever seem to CRAWL along when we’re right in the middle of them!
I’m currently smack in the middle of long days and short years… and I can finally see both sides.
After 6 years of parenting, I have enough perspective to be able to look back and see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve been through, and (yes) how quickly those years flew by.
There are still SO many excruciatingly LOOOOOOOOONG days, but at least I know the kids will be in bed soon enough, I’ll be able to regroup, and we can start over the next day.
Because before I know it, my baby will be in school all day and I’ll look back with rose-colored glasses on the days when tiny footsteps woke me up at night and how “sweet” it was to rock them back to sleep 🙂
If you are in the thick of LOOOOONG days without enough parenting perspective to look back and see how far you’ve come, just know you aren’t alone. I think I can speak for all parents in saying, “We’ve all been there!”
Don’t feel like you should enjoy every moment. Don’t worry about a few bad moments, days, or even weeks because your children most likely won’t remember any of it. Don’t feel the need to be the happy mom all day, every day. And don’t let yourself feel guilty for turning the TV on and locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace and quiet.
One day in the not too distant future, you will wake up and see the light at the end of the tunnel. You will be halfway (maybe more) and realize just how far you’ve come and everything you’ve accomplished over the years.
You’ll probably feel so much satisfaction, so much joy, and maybe even a little relief!
For now, just focus on enjoying at least a few special moments TODAY… and feel free to roll your eyes at anyone who tells you, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
I’ll close with a sweet story about a recent VERY LONG DAY at the Dekker house…
Last week Saturday, our kids were driving Dave and me insane. They woke up WAY too early, they were whiny, grumpy, and crabby most of the day — despite the fact that we had several fun things planned for them.
They complained about all our attempts to do something fun or special, they kept begging for snacks and candy, and were stubborn at mealtimes, refusing to eat their food.
To top it all off, we had company coming for dinner, so we knew they wouldn’t get to bed nearly as early as they normally do… AND Simon peed his pants all over the kitchen floor RIGHT before we were ready to sit down for dinner (after insisting he did not have to go!)
By the time we got them all to bed, Dave and I were SO mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted — and we still had to finish cleaning up the house, picking up the outside toys, and work on staining our shed.
As we sat on the couch, willing our home and yard to simply clean itself up, Dave said, “can you believe we’ll have another one next month!?”
I literally felt like crying — the thought of being responsible for 1 more human was just so overwhelming.
We finally fell into bed around midnight… and just hours later, James woke up crying.
I slowly dragged my aching body up the stairs, so annoyed to be awake at this hour of the night… and as I walked up the stairs, Simon met me outside his room saying he wet the bed.
Flames were practically shooting out of my ears!
I told James I would be right back, brought Simon to the bathroom and changed his clothes, took the top layer of sheets off his bed, and got him back into bed. Then I picked James up and rocked him in the chair for a few minutes before putting him back in bed.
As I was leaving the room, James popped his head up and said, “Mommy, a lub you so much… nigh nigh!”
Simon immediately popped his head up and said, “I love you too Mom… see you in the morning.”
After assuring both of them I loved them SO much, I walked back downstairs happy and content — like the last 24 hours of horribleness never even happened. I fell asleep instantly, and when I woke up the next morning, I realized THIS is what is so special about little kids.
They can be such a handful and SO MUCH WORK, but they are so sweet, forgiving, and loving — even if we’re short-tempered with them and make it fairly obvious that we are extremely annoyed to be cleaning up their pee at 3:00 in the morning.
Yes, life will be even crazier in a few more weeks when #4 arrives. We will most likely have some very long days when I question why we ever wanted children in the first place. And there will probably be times when I hand the “reigns” over to Dave the minute he walks in the door from school and just go for a walk because I NEED TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.
That’s OK because in just a few more years, I might be completely done with the exhausting baby and toddler phase of parenting and moving on to the next phase.
I can handle a few more years of sleeplessness…right?