Earlier this week, I was at the doctor’s office with my mom. There was a woman around my age with a toddler and a new baby. There was also another older woman who kept telling the young mother how much she should appreciate them when they’re this young and they grow so fast, you know, all that stuff. The baby started crying while my mom was back with the doctor, and when she came out, she said, “Someone out here has a baby! I’m jealous!” The other woman chimed in, “Me too!”. I hesitated, then said, “I’m not!” And it’s true. Mothers of young kids, it’s okay to want them to grow up a little bit. It’s okay to look forward to the days when they’re not so young.
I loved my babies. Seriously. They were adorable and sweet and lovable…except when they weren’t. I haven’t forgotten how hard it is to have young kids, how much work it is, how much of yourself you have to give up in order to serve these tiny humans. They’re delightful, and demanding. They’re cute, and crazy. It’s rewarding, and repetitive. There’s a lot of joy, and a lot of tears. I mean, come on, colic? teething? Middle of the night projectile vomiting? Potty training? Temper tantrums? Playing the same game over and over? “MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM!!” It’s a hard job.
I’m so very glad I had kids. There was a lot I loved when they were young, and I do miss the sweet hugs, the excitement whenever they saw me, the cuddling, the innocence, the delight in each new development.
But guess what? Now I have actual people! I have an 11 year old and a 15 year old, and the last three years have been so much fun. I have these two great individuals who can take care of their own basic needs, who can verbalize their aches and pains. There are still tantrums but they’re few and far between, and I can actually reason with them now (to some extent). They’re smart, and I can hold interesting, intelligent conversations with them. They’re discovering what their passions are, and I love seeing what I can share with them, and what new things they can introduce me to. I marvel at the skills and talents they have now.
I watch who they’re growing up to be, and I know that I had a part in it. That’s more rewarding than anything else I’ve experienced up to now. Yes, of course, what I did when they were babies was part of it. It’s a whole long process, and I’m finally seeing the payoff. I have wonderful, wonderful kids. They’re kind, thoughtful, generous, still loving at times, sympathetic toward others.
Oh, they’re not perfect. They’re normal kids. They can be selfish, thoughtless, disrespectful, lazy, sloppy, and clueless. They get snappish and cranky with me, they forget to feed and water the dogs, they leave their shoes EVERYWHERE, and quite often they don’t smell so fresh. I still wake up earlier than I’d like, but only on school days, not every day. It’s still hard.
But then they thank me for driving them around, or they spend their own money to buy me a birthday gift, or they decide on their own to make me a card for Valentine’s Day, or they clean the kitchen without me asking. Any of those feel just as good as, if not better than, a hug from a toddler.