I used to get so angry at older women in stores who would smile knowingly at me with my three toddlers and say obnoxious things like, “you think it’s hard now, wait until they’re teenagers, bigger kids bigger problems.”
First, I was pissed that they would insinuate that there was ever going to be anything harder than life with three kids under six because I was pretty sure if it got harder, I would die. Like, literally I would die under the pressure of being a mom to three wildly different small people.
Second, I got pissed because how dare they add one more thing for me to worry about. It was bad enough keeping track of feeding, sleeping and language development, now I had to worry about teenage problems before two of them were even out of diapers? Thanks a lot.
Naturally, I mostly tried to ignore the “bigger kids bigger problems” moms whenever I encountered them. After all, I adore teenagers. Seriously, I mean that. As a teacher, youth minister, counselor and just general human being, I prefer junior high and up. So, I assumed I’d have it all handled when my kids were older. If I could only get them to survive preschool, it would all be smooth sailing game nights and family movie fests.
Guess what? I was sorta wrong.
Let me be clear, teenagers are still my jam. That sounds wrong. Let me clarify, working with and parenting teenagers is what I like. That’s all. Yeesh.
So, mostly, I like where I am now with my kids. I’ve written a bunch about these golden years of life where they’re older and wiser and way funnier than ever before.
That said, I’m kind of understanding the bigger kids bigger problems ladies of yore. Damn them.
It’s not that my kids are trouble (they aren’t) or that we don’t get along (we do) and I fully believe that is 80% luck but also 20% decisions and choices The Husband and I made in those early years. So, my bigger children are not the problem, but the world and it’s problems are the bigger part of this equation. I try to manage worry, because it’s really just futile. But the hurt and the struggle and the second-guessing? Well, that’s not so easy.
When they’re small, booboos can be kissed away. When they’re big, they stick around longer and run deeper.
The weight I carry around on a daily basis is heavy because it’s my own plus three. When they hurt, I hurt and now the hurt is in the heart rather than the skinned knees. When they struggle I put on a brave face for them but then I struggle too. Managing one’s emotions is difficult. Managing four people’s emotions is that much harder.
I marvel at them daily. They all have an incredible ability to identify what they are tackling and then work out how to tackle it with minimal damage. They are strong and they are confident and they are kind and no matter all of these things they still get thrown around by life a lot of the time. I’m so proud of who they are and who they are becoming every day. But it is hard work. I just wish they never had hardship or questioned themselves. But then again, everything worth doing is hard, right? Apparently for them and for me. They call them growing pains for a reason, I guess.
So, in the name of self-care, I’ll try to focus on the laughter, which is still abundant and doing all that I can to create a safe haven for all of them to figure out who they are and how they’ll handle the world. Because, I can’t control how the world treats them, but I can control the soft place for them to land.
I’ll keep planning some game nights and family movie times, and be sure to stock the freezer with ice cream. It cures all boo boos-even those of the heart.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.