I’ve been parenting little ones for more than twelve years. That is a long time with have babies and toddlers and little people who need you to do most everything for them.
I have loved it. Truly. It’s been more work than I ever could have imagined it and I am not immune from the desire (and secret plans) to run away and go on a cruise all by my lonesome self, but all in all, I have loved it. When life gets hard, I know I have little people who will make me laugh on a regular basis.
That said, I am also really enjoying the new stage of having some older kids. Imagine…kids who can get their own water, wipe their own bottoms, and have a real I-can-follow-it conversation! Older kids are so much fun and it is so miraculous to watch their personalities start to shine.
But alas, I am the mother to littles and bigs. And that can be tough! Sometimes I feel that the older kids get the short end of the stick because the little ones just need me so much. Sometimes I feel the little ones are getting neglected because the big kids need me more for school and because they can actually play a game that doesn’t involve Candy or Lands or Shoots or Ladders.
So, as if the guilt of motherhood isn’t enough on its own, I get a double whammy! If I am being intentional with my older ones, I fear the little ones are missing out. If I cater to the little ones, I fear losing the heart of my older ones. It’s true, we do a lot as a whole family and the bigs and littles integrate their activities all the time. And yet, I always feel the need to clone myself so I can be all things to my kids (some for good motives, some for prideful ones).
Every once in a while, our family takes the divide and conquer approach the the half dozen toe heads running around. This past week, Jason took the older three to Camp and I stayed home with the littles. It was a tough decision, and one we didn’t come to lightly, but in the end we felt it was best for all involved.
And let me tell you….it was great and amazingly difficult all at the same time. I sat there most of the week thinking, “I don’t know how you mamas if all little ones do it!” And then I remembered that I was in fact one of those mamas not too long ago and I somehow survived, with great kids to boot. I just forgot how much work it is and how little reward. It’s not that the bigger kids do the work for me when they are home, but rather, the dynamic is just so different. They want to play with their younger siblings. They want to listen to ALL. THE. WORDS. They want to help little ones get dressed on Sunday and buckle seat belts in the car.
Hard as it was and as much as I was missing conversations with people over the age of seven, it was also wonderful. It was so nice to not have a divided heart. I was able to just simply be with the little ones and be greeted with princess kisses in the morning and pleas for water spraying on the trampoline in the afternoons.
They are just so sweet and little and fun to be around. This season will be over before I know it and I want to soak it in as long as I can.