My daughter, son, and I were watching home movies recently. At 8 and 5, they love watching scenes from when they were babies and toddlers and laughing at all their cute idiosyncrasies.
We watched Meghan, as an uninhibited 5 year old, stand on the hearth of our fireplace, dancing and singing her heart out. Luke was about 2, and we could see his reflection in the glass of the fireplace. He was climbing on me, trying to get the video recorder. He was making grunting noises, drowning out Meghan’s singing, and you could hear me saying “No, Luke, shhh…Let’s watch Meghan.”
They see all the cuteness (and so do I, of course) but they don’t see the difficult. They don’t see what was hard for me during those times. They don’t see the exhaustion.
I remember thinking that as they grew, it would get easier.
They’d sleep through the night.
They’d be more independent.
I wouldn’t worry about them getting into things around the house when my back was turned.
I looked at the two big kids I have now, and realized it hasn’t gotten easier.
Different? Yes. Easier? No.
It’s not easy when they are bickering over the tiniest things.
It’s not easy when my sensitive daughter’s feelings are hurt and I have to help her understand that not everyone is kind.
It’s not easy when my son loses his temper and throws the board game and scatters all its pieces on the floor.
It’s not easy when we are trying to eat healthy dinners while juggling activities.
It’s not easy when they constantly want to negotiate bedtime.
Maybe, I thought for a moment, the next stage will be the easy years. Maybe they just need to get a little bit older.
That thought was halted when images of increased social pressure, more intense sports and activities, and knowing we will have to back off and trust our kids to make the right choices without us holding their hands came flooding into my mind.
Those images were followed by teenagers and social media, cell phones, more difficult and important school work, and them driving. Driving!
The constant worry that must come with that stage certainly can’t be classified as easy. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.
The realization hit me fast and hard. There are no easy years.
This parenting gig ebbs and flows with your growing children, and each stage has its unique difficulties. We navigate those difficulties and if we take the time to be aware and present, we enjoy the process.
Even without easy years, there’s nothing like being a parent. Motherhood, with all its ups, downs, and sideways turns, provides a light in my life I can’t imagine living without. There are no easy years, but they’re all good years.