I’m at a weird stage with my kids. What stage isn’t weird, right?
They are 3 and 5. In sum total, I have four hours each week when they are both at school at the same time. My self of two years ago would hate my current self for saying, “It almost isn’t worth it.”, because sometimes it feels four hours aren’t that big of a deal. But that’s silly, of course it’s worth it.
Mommy feeds on time alone. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve only found myself cherishing privacy and alone time and being able to do wild things things like buy tampons without help. In general, my work goes more smoothly when there are less juice cups to fill.
These four hours of alone time have given me a taste of sanity. And it’s not just the time alone, to be honest. It’s that my son has now mostly started wiping his own bum and that my kids now do adorable things like hold hands and walk around the yard together while I watch from the window. It really is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
I am less needed, and I am sure this is part of the mothering gene I’m missing, but I’m in no way sad about this. Maybe someday I will be, but for now, there are still too many pee accidents to clean up and peanut butter sandwiches that need to be cut into five perfect strips.
I’m still largely too needed.
And the non-sweet moments with my kids are still too non-sweet. As my daughter fully realizes her three year old-ness, I’m fully realizing the meaning of “unnerved”. My nerves are shot, frayed, and shaking as her powerful tantrums often leave my heart racing. When I’m “on” as a mom, I’m so on, in such a way that leaves me totally wiped and pitifully crashing by 8pm.
So this is where the weird part comes in…
I have one foot on the ground of sanity, which gives rise to glorious things like being able to spread the laundry out over the entire living room floor without somebody kicking my neat piles. I said it was glorious.
The other foot is still in the muck and mire of all that is tough and exhausting, the genuine preciousness of their ages, and sticky blue lollipop hands.
The result is I’m left doing some sort of extreme stretching maneuver, and I was never really very flexible.
Without any official measurements or guidelines, I feel like I’m about halfway there. Halfway to being started on the road to a more sane existence of being able to complete thoughts in my own head and not jealously look at moms of older kids and think, “I don’t care if the teenage years are hell, I’ll bet they can reach the refridgerator door handle by themselves.” But I’m still pretty invested in where I’ve been for the past five years, spending a lot of time opening and closing that fridge door.
As for the four hours? It’s a cruel tease, and on days when it’s raining when I run in for drop-off and pick-up, I’m really not always sure it is actually so utterly fantastic. Though I do love sporting my pretty rain boots. And I’m honestly not sure we, as a family, are ready for more than four hours anyway, as much as I think I want it.
But I am sure I’m going to crank through all the moments I do have alone like it’s nobody’s business.
Halfway there–the blurred place we are exactly.
Photo credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:12298003, Copyright:everett225
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Love your graphic 🙂
I’m with you on the straddling the sanity fence. This probably makes me a TERRIBLE person, but just the other day, I was out with my 3 and 5 year-old and thought how nice it is that they’re getting to be more independent. And then I looked down at the baby on my boob and was like, ‘Huh.’ 😉 She’ll be running around before I know it. Must. Savor. This…
Friend, you are so on the fence, I know! How you manage it all blows me away!
Ashley @ 3 Little Greenwoods says
My 3 are 10, 7, and 4 and I’m feeling like we are halfway there too! Praise the Lord!
Teenage years are just around the corner though. Parenting doesn’t get easier it simply gets different.
So well said! Guess we’ll be hanging out on the fences for a while, huh? 😉
Janine Huldie says
Totally get this and with Emma finally in Kindergarten, I have her gone all day (yes I miss her, but the time is amazing), but then I still have Lily, who has pre-school and is only gone for 2 1/2 hours each day. Just as I sit down to get stuff done it is time to get her, so trust me I so feeling you and yes sadly relate on so many different levels here!
It’s a blessing to have the time, I know, but so far from “there”. Someday, Janine, right?
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says
I love this image. I suppose that, with a 12, 9, and 7 year old, i’m much more in that phase you are looking forward to where there is considerably more independence. However, there is a different kind of insanity manifested in crazy busy schedules, hormones, and mood swings. There is a quote by J.D. Salinger that says “Mothers are all slightly insane.” I would agree with that. I think that, at any and every stage, there is some level of it. However, I absolutely do not miss the days when I had to wipe their butts and open the refrigerator for them! 🙂
Love that quote, Lisa! So wise and so incredibly true!
I love that you’re beautifully aware of it all in the middle of it. To some moms, it’s just noise and quiet. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? I couldn’t wait for Elise to be old enough to get big-kid toys in her Happy Meal, and not baby toys. Now, Grace has decided she is too old, at 10, to go to the children’s sermon.
It all happens at once. I think about solitude and serenity sometimes in the din of it all. I know I do. But when I get out on my own on the disc golf course and it’s just me, I begin to miss them there, too.
Thing is, we need both, don’t we?
Parenthood is such a weird mixed bag of all these milestones and emotions. To being beautifully aware, Eli! (and love that you have a daughter named Elise too–I didn’t know this!)
Oh yes, yep, nodding so hard my neck aches. Isn’t it amazing to just straddle both worlds at exactly the same time? I so get it. Excellent post.-Ashley
Good stretching though at least, right Ashley? 😉 Thank you. xo
My youngest is 16…I DO miss when they were little..but I’m not sorry they AREN’T little anymore…
Thanks for getting it, Michelle!
Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying says
When my kids hit 5 & 7 it was a BIG change for me, sanity-wise. HANG IN THERE SISTER.
Thanks, babe–clinging to this hope!