When you have children this crazy thing happens. You want them to stay little forever. You get caught up in the moments of firsts. Enjoying everything. At the same time you can’t wait for them to grow up. To be able to do more things with them. To see who they become. To get past the hard stages. I’m here to tell you that it only gets kind of easier as they get older.
The infant stage is the first (up to 1 year). It brings so much to the table. You fall deeply in love with this precious new bundle of joy you brought into the world. You celebrate all the firsts – smile, tooth, rolling over, laugh, crawling, words, walking, and so much more. It’s a wonderful time in your life. You are enjoying every minute of it. But it is also brings so much hard stuff with it. Collickiness leaving a screaming baby practically all day and night. Long nights waking up for multiple feedings. Dried sore nipples or mounds of bottles in the sink. And so much more. Some days you’ll want this stage to end and some days you’ll want it to last forever. It’s hard.
The toddler stage is next (1-3 years old). It also brings so much to the table. You are still deeply in love with your child and amazed by everything they do, but some days are harder than others. They begin to become more independent. Trying to do more things for themselves and learning like crazy. You are impressed by them and are beginning to see more of their personality. The days are long as they get into everything and tantrums are thrown. You still love them, but you become exhausted and can’t wait for this stage to get over. It’s hard to deal with your child constantly getting into stuff and them throwing tantrums.
Then comes the preschool stage (3-5 years old). Your child’s little mind is really starting to develop. They ask questions constantly. They want to know everything. They’re always playing and wanting you to play with them. They are becoming even more independent. They start school and can’t wait to show you all the things they did or the artwork they brought home. They start learning small life lessons like being kind, sharing, right from wrong. They still throw tantrums, but they’re far and few. You still deeply love them. The days are long. The questions are endless. School ends way too soon for you to get anything done. They are still getting into everything and making masterpieces on the walls.
Next is the child stage (5-13 years old). Children become even more independent. They start learning to do chores around the house, cooking or heating things up in the microwave, getting into trouble at school. They spend most of their days in school learning so many new things. They make friends and have falling out with friends. They still have lots of firsts, but they’re different. First crushes, first dances, first best friends, first time not wanting you to walk them to class, first time being embarrassed by you. They stop asking you so many questions. They stop needing you to tie their shoes, buckle their seatbelt, pack their lunch. The days feel so long when they’re upset or hurt because of something a bully said or a friend said that caused their falling out. You still deeply love them, but you worry about them all the time. You long for the days when they were smaller.
Last is the teen stage (13-19 years old). Hormones run your child’s body. They start to become little people and are no longer children. They spend all their time at school or hanging out with friends. They have even more falling outs with friends. They learn a ton of stuff at school or just out in the world. They start to pull away from you. They no longer want to play and they are completely embarrassed by you and just about anything you do. They become super independent cooking for themselves, doing even more chores, and they don’t need you as much anymore. You have to start preparing them for the real world and sending them off into the world to become adults. You feel all their pain and sadness, but you know you have to let them figure some things out on their own. Your house becomes quieter and you worry about them constantly. You long for the days of tantrums, masterpieces on the walls, and needing you to hold them.
Every stage of childhood brings something different for you and your child. Some things get easier and some things get harder. It never really gets easier because everything changes. One day the hard part is dealing with a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store and you’re completely embarrassed. The next thing you know the hard part is dealing with the fact your child doesn’t need you anymore and you have to let them figure things out on their own. It doesn’t really get easier, things just change and certain aspects get easier. We will always love our children. We will always see the hard parts or the hard days as we are in them. We will all look back one day and long for the days that seemed so hard.
When you look at the day or moment you’re in and everything feels so hard, remember right now it is hard. Remember it won’t always be hard. Remember this hardness will fade, but with that comes another challenge. Remember that someday you will long to have this day back. Being a parent never really gets easier, the challenges we face just change and we adapt better to the changes. Live in the moment and enjoy the 100 questions asked today. Enjoy your child knocking on the door when all you wanted to do was pee. Enjoy them wanted you to play with them. One day it will all be behind you and you’ll laugh and cry because you want those days back.