The best years

Call, call, call the senators who will be hearing HB 3079 in committee next week. They need to know people really care about this bill.

I was intrigued by a recent comment on my post about homemaking with toddlers. The commentor said that it is hard when you are in the middle of those years to hear from older moms about how these are the best years and it would go down a little easier if there was some commiseration before hand. I don't disagree. There have been many times when I have been talking with a mother a stage or two ahead of me and I feel as though that person must be suffering from amnesia about what parenting young children is really like. That being said, I'm pretty sure that I have never told a young mother to appreciate these years because they are the best.

A friend with twins asked me recently when it got easier. I had to stop and think for a moment. I thought about my incredibly inflexible child whom I also love madly. I thought about when both five year olds are feeling overly tired and are both incredibly needy at the same time. I thought about when they both absolutely positively have to have the exact same thing at the same time, causing possibly hearing loss to those in the room. I had to admit to her that it doesn't get easier, it just gets different. Of course there are many things about my girls that make up for the challenges... babies and toddlers have those things as well. The true challenge of parenting is to focus on those positives which keep the negatives in perspective. I think it is this perspective that older parents are so anxious to communicate. Perhaps they didn't appreciate those early years as much as they should have and want to spare a young parent their own regrets.

While perspective is a very good thing, I also think it is a mistake to imply that one parenting stage is better than another. (It's right up there with telling a high school student, "These are the best years of your life." Really? How depressing.) Yes, of course, there are wonderful, never to be repeated things about having a newborn or a toddler in the house. But as much as I loved those years and sometimes long for my grown children to be little again, there are also some pretty wonderful things about the ensuing years as well. There are positives and negatives to every parenting stage... just like everything in life. How many parents of young children have also heard the dire warnings of, "Just wait until they're teenagers."? Even though it has its challenges, I actually love the teen years. It is fascinating to watch this child slowly turn into the adult they will become. They are interesting to talk to, can attend to their own personal hygiene, are capable of doing things, are filled with ideas, and (at least mine) have well-developed senses of humor. If I were able to turn the clock back and make my older children young again, I wouldn't do it for very long as I would miss the person they had become.

So what are the best parenting years? The one you are in right now. I am just as adamant about parents appreciating their older children as I am in urging them to appreciate their younger ones. Live in the moment and make the most of it. Do not rush to make your child older, but also do not mourn for who they were and miss who they are now. Learn to look for the positives and practice being thankful for the child in front of you, whether they are 8 months old, 8 years old, or 18 years old. We don't know what tomorrow brings, don't waste today wishing for it.


Carla said…
Well said, thank you!
Anonymous said…
People may think the toddler years are better than where they are currently because their children are far away. It is nice having everyone together. Otherwise I completely agree - this is the best time, and they get better and better :-)

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