I mentioned before that I had the weekend to myself. Matt left Friday night for Effingham will all 3 boys in tow, leaving me to my Christmas shopping, Pear & Gorgonzola pizza from CPK, a massage, more shopping, and a BeadforLife party on Saturday night. It’s amazing what a weekend alone can do to renew you for the grind of the week ahead!
Of course, even though they weren’t here, I thought a lot about my boys, and how they’re growing so fast. Just last week I had to take several pairs of jeans out of Luke’s drawer because they were too short (he’s finally growing!). Same for Jack Henry, who, at this rate, will be Bennett’s size by the end of the school year. I looked through some old pictures and felt a familiar catch in my chest. If you have kids older than new baby stage, you know what I’m talking about; you see a picture of your kids as a newborn/new crawler/new walker/first day of preschool, and you wonder where the time went. At the same time, though I miss those babies, it’s not a stage I’d willingly return to. Don’t get me wrong: I love LOVE babies. I loved having my own babies. But that stage is so much work.
And then the thought occurred to me: right now, I want time to stand still.
I’d heard moms of older kids talk about this stage of parenting, and I never really got it until just now. I kinda thought that, given the chance, I’d always love to freeze time and keep my kids at whatever stage they were in. But now I realize that while I’d give anything to visit the Diehl family in 2007 (boys ages almost 5, 2.5 and newborn) for a day, I don’t exactly want to live there again.
Because right now, we’re in a parenting sweet spot.
Everyone feeds themselves. And if they choose not to eat what is served, it’s their choice – the next meal is a few hours away and they’ll live. And they understand that this is how it works: I’m not cooking special food for you, so eat it or don’t…your choice.
No one is in diapers (though I am still wiping one bottom, that will be over in a year or so, too).
We can go out for dinner and not worry about complete chaos.
All of them can articulate what’s wrong when they’re sick. No panic over wondering if something hurts; he’s going to tell me if it does.
They’re old enough to have friends, but young enough to think that spending time with us is still really cool.
They’re understanding the whys of what we teach them – why we do things to help others, why we go to bed a reasonable hour, why we keep our house in order, why we aren’t buying those toys.
Luke is downright helpful, from making breakfast some days to helping pack his lunch to hauling in groceries.
We have quite a bit of control over who they spend their time with.
Don’t get me wrong. Daily (hourly?), things are still tough. Luke still complains about homework and chores. Bennett is still a bundle of energy that needs to be harnessed at times. Jack Henry is totally a toddler, which means his temperament is very affected by his sleep, and he has weird tantrums and is knowingly starting to test the limits of right and wrong. The boys wrestle like cavemen. They fight over their toys. They whine about dinner choices.
But really, when you do the math, adding up all the good and subtracting the hard stuff, these are good times. (I mean, obviously, no matter what stage you’re in, it’s always worth it. It’s just not as much hard work at some stages.) They’re why my mom and plenty of other wise parents told me their 30s are their favorite years.
And I finally see that.