A Shift in Motherhood

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I’ve felt a shift in motherhood, or I should say parenting (Justin and I have both felt this), where I’m doing less of the physical/exhausting part of raising children and more of the mental/life-skills part.

This is very apparent when I’m with my siblings who have younger children than mine. My brother and his wife have a 1-year-old, and my sister and her husband have a 2-year-old. We’ve gone on a few trips recently where we’re all together and their little ones require an adult to be monitoring or helping with a task, feeding a meal, soothing for nap time, and all the other things that go into caring for a toddler.

Meanwhile, my boys, 7 and 8, would be off riding their bikes in a safe neighborhood, and Emily (4) would likely be nearby but happily playing in her own make-believe world.

And Justin and I could sit. On a chair or a porch swing. And be there for more than 2 minutes.

And on a few occasions, we would look at each other and say, “we did it” and laugh because the toddler years are exhausting! We’re very much enjoying our kids growing up, and it’s great fun to do different things together like ride bikes, go to the movies, play card games, and more.

The challenge now is learning each of our children’s personalities and helping them adapt to and understand the world around them. We’re learning how they react to things, what makes them upset, and also what they absolutely love. The boys, for being such close friends, are into such different things! Luke can hardly be bothered to make a single lego structure, and David likes the most intricate, detailed lego kits you can buy. Luke likes to color and loves to jump and do flips, and David writes his own funny comic strips.

Emily is tough as nails and can hang with her older brothers, but also very much into dress-up and princesses. She colors with crayons or markers at the kitchen counter every day, so much so that I had to get her a craft cart to keep all her coloring things organized!

But back to the shift. I’m feeling confident in my parenting as no one knows my kids better than I do, but also very much aware of the impact my words and actions have on my kids. When one of them shares with me that they experienced a kid at school being mean to them, I can pull from my own experiences (both as a child in school, and now as an adult with a job that exposes me to the public) and relate to them. There are ways I can easily understand what my kids are feeling and experiencing, and there are other ways that require more patience for me to allow them to try to explain why they are feeling a certain way.

I worry about them differently than I did when they were toddlers. The protective side of me has always been intense, but having kids that are old enough to be more independent and do things on their own is requiring a lot of adaptation on my end. I want them to feel brave, strong, and proud about growing up and doing “big kid” things, but I also would very much love them to all be within my line of sight at all times at the park, you know what I mean?

It’s been interesting to be at this stage, a stage that felt so very far away when I was exhausted with my 16-month-old David and 2-month-old colicky Luke. I remember pushing them in a double stroller and thinking, “One day they will ride their own bikes next to me on these walks”, and suddenly that is where we are.

If I could, I would love to go back to my 29-year-old self in that stage of life and grab her by the shoulders and say, “They are right, you know. It does go by in a blink. The days are long but the years are short. Don’t wish away this time too much.”

I was so overwhelmed as a young mother, taxed from loss of sleep and the pressure to grow my business and be a breadwinner for our family. I am deeply grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do what I love from home and be very present for my young kids.

And now in this stage, with boys who tell me their friends’ moms follow me on Instagram, and Emily who is still quite oblivious to what I do, I am sorting through how much to share and what to keep private, as we’re guiding these kids along in a world they still need to figure out!

This chapter of parenting will certainly bring challenges, as any season will, but I’m so grateful to have Justin with me on this journey. And I’m truly so impressed with my kids already, and I simply hope that they know that we’re trying our best to raise them right.

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Sherry says · 07.14.22

This is a lovely post. I don’t have any children and never will, but it is an absolute pleasure watching your children (and Liam too) growing up. From where I sit and watch it seems like you and Justin are doing a great job. They are all adorable and fun to watch in your stories and videos. Time really does go by so fast, what a great season you are in at the moment with your family. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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Kate says · 07.14.22

What a lovely comment to read this morning, thank you for your kind words and support!!

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[email protected] says · 07.14.22

Great post. As a mom of twins who just turned 24 (gasp) (it REALLY does go by so fast) I love how you savor the moments and keep perspective. I’ve learned, as I parented through all the stages (up to this new adult stage) that just LOVE THEM, pray for them diligently, pray for their future spouse (I did that since my twins were in my womb, and now my son is engaged to EXACTLY who I prayed for him). (praise Him). Be a safe place for them, and make your home a safe sanctuary that allows them to fail, discover all that the world has, but that has you to talk it through and listen. You are doing a great job.

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Missy says · 07.14.22

Parenting is the ultimate course in learning change, right? Each season is so sweet. Mine are all teens now, including one headed away to university next month. I made many sacrifices to be with them as much as possible and don’t regret it at all. I’m thankful for the times we have shared and the connection that keeps us close, still. What a privilege to be moms!

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Carly says · 07.14.22

What a great post! I really appreciate you sharing this part of your life. It’s very vulnerable. I have a 2 year old (who very much requires physical help or supervision doing just about everything) and a 4 year old (who is starting to transition out of needing my physically, but much more mentally). It’s comforting to hear from other moms who are experiencing life in a similar way. You and Justin seem to be great parents and you’re kids are lucky to have you!

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Kate C says · 07.14.22

Such a delight to read this and to watch your beautiful family growing up! I was just wondering, as a mum to a three year old and a soon-to-be newborn, whether there are any parenting books you’d recommend?

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Christina says · 07.14.22

Love this post! My son is the same age as Emily, so I am definitely beginning to feel this as well. It’s hard to describe this kind of life shift and the accompanying feelings, but you articulated it perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

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Tami says · 07.14.22

I am a mom of 4 grown daughters (32, 29, 24, 21) and 2 grands (5yo boy & 4yo girl) I was fortunate to be able to be at home with my girls and daycare giver to the grands thru age 3, man how I have loved growing each relationship. Yes some days are exhausting physically and mentally but I would go back in a second. I love watching you and your feed as it mirrors how I raised my lovelies in many ways and helps me stay up to date on what is cool for my grands. It is so true when you are going through it to wish it would speed up but dang if I could relive it I would. Not to change anything but to love it all again. No truer words “Days are long and Years are short” thanks for all that you share.

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Danielle says · 07.14.22

I loved reading this. I’ve been following you for years and love watching your kids grow up (and Liam!). You are so genuine and I appreciate your content and recommendations!

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Kate says · 07.14.22

We just had a big parenting shift- my son is 17.. My daughter is in middle school. My husband and I have found ourselves unexpectedly without kids in our house at dinner time- several times this summer. It’s so odd and unexpected and good to be with each other like this.

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Megan says · 07.14.22

Yes, the shift comes with all kinds of thoughts and emotions. We have a 7 year old and a 12 year old and now the focus seems to be on the relationships they have with their friends and all of the highs and lows that come with that. Knowing the right things to say in each circumstance to help them can be difficult sometimes. But the fun we are having as a family and the personal extra time we’re getting back now is pretty great.

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Samantha says · 07.14.22

I so appreciate your posts like this. Your honesty and openness about motherhood is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Erin Royer says · 07.14.22

My husband and I have been saying the same thing recently. Our kids are three and five and we feel the shift happening. I immediately shared this post with him and think you have described the situation beautifully. It is really hard to put in words feeling this shift has for us. Sending well wishes and lots of love from my mom in a similar spot in Indiana! ❤️

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Emily Kate says · 07.14.22

I’m a mom of a (nearly) 5 and 7 year old, and we had our third (AND FINAL) child earlier this year – he’s just 6 months old. So, I feel like I’m living two lives at the moment – tuning into how to address the needs of my older two, helping them contribute to the house and make their own decisions – and then simultaneously, using my whole body to parent our baby. I love the way you put this – it helps define what I’m going through which sometimes, is a huge help. Thank you!

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Jennifer Mueller says · 07.14.22

Beautiful post! I’m a mother to 3 little girls and currently living in both worlds: I have a 2 year old who is exhausting right now, and my others are 6 & 8. Balancing between keeping my toddler safe and being present for my older kids is so challenging. I know all too well that it goes by in a blink. Every stage is difficult and beautiful. I love watching your kids grow up. Thank you for sharing and for always being real and refreshing.

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Pamela says · 07.14.22

I love this blog post so much. It resonates with me as my three boys (9, 6, and 3) are growing up quickly right before my eyes. The last part – trying our best to raise them right – brought a tear to my eye. The work we do as parents is so important and so good. I enjoy following you on IG; you are a light!

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Alicia says · 07.14.22

I’ve been here since the Pinterest days and I was a young mom then as my kids are 18, 16, and 12 now. It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow into this role and I think you’re doing a fantastic job.

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Lucy says · 07.14.22

You’re in what’s called “the sweet spot”; you’re past the exhausting baby and toddler age and into the sweet easy elementary age. Roughly between the ages 5-12. My kids are 14 and 12 and we are entering the teenage years and let me tell ya they make me miss the simple toddler years! Teenage years is much more mentally and emotionally exhausting. Constantly worrying about them as they pull away and care more about what their peers think rather than us 😩 Parenting is never easy.

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Audra says · 07.14.22

Kate, I have been feeling the same way! Our twins boys are 6 and I have so enjoyed the shift. It’s good to know what 7 and 8 might look like too, from your perspective with your boys. Thanks for sharing. (PS I can’t believe I’ve followed you since way before David was born!)

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Natalie Buell says · 07.14.22

Oh my. Oh I feel this. My girls are 11 and 8. They play outside for hours and I only see them when they need a drink. 11 went to babysitting class (!!!) the other day and rode in the front seat with me on the way to class. I kept thinking, “what is my life?” 😂 Things seem mentally more taxing now (bullies..etc) and sometimes I long for the toddler years but I love, love this season we’re in. Trying to treasure all the “seasons” for they are going by very quickly.

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Natalie Buell says · 07.14.22

Oh my. Oh I feel this. My girls are 11 and 8. They play outside for hours and I only see them when they need a drink. 11 went to babysitting class (!!!) the other day and rode in the front seat with me on the way to class. I kept thinking, “what is my life? What happened to my baby?” 😂 Things seem mentally more taxing now (bullies..etc) and sometimes I long for the toddler years but I love, love this season we’re in. Trying to treasure all the “seasons” for they are going by very quickly.

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Lisa O says · 07.14.22

I love this post. Today is my daughter’s 26th birthday so I’ve been looking through photo albums all day. Your thoughts hit me directly in my heart today. It does go by so fast! Thank you for sharing. 😉

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Karrie says · 07.14.22

And just when you get settled into this phase and appreciate it, BAM! Now they’re teenagers and you’re having to adapt to the fresh hell that is teenage hormones! 🤣🤣
And you are so right, the days are so long, but the years are so incredibly short. Enjoy each one, and each phase, because they change so quickly! Keep up the good work!

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Kelly Burson says · 07.14.22

I have three kids ranging from 4 to 8 and I feel this same thing! Every day I can’t believe I’m out of the “little years.” Thanks for articulating this shift and putting words to it – I’m thankful for social media that allows me to resonate with other moms and know others are experiencing the same thing!

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Caroline says · 07.14.22

I feel this to my core! With my children being 8 and 5 (just started kinder), our parenting is shifting. I love that phrase as I watch my siblings with young kids, I’ve realized it more this summer. It’s a sweet spot but I also am working on how to treat them like older kids but still kids. That’s a weird spot for me.

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Beth Janes says · 07.14.22

❤️

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Kim Guge says · 07.14.22

My sister in law and I were just discussing this. We were at a family event, surrounded by family members who were wrangling toddlers all day. Our kids are teenagers. Those early years are ROUGH sometimes. But there is nothing better than watching your older kids, and realizing that they have become truly good people. I think as parents we need to give ourselves a bit more credit for that. The hard work, sacrifice, and sometimes restraint, really does make a difference when raising children. Keep it up. You’re doing great.

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Sarah Fitts says · 07.14.22

Thank you for your insightful post. I’m a mom to an 11 month old, pregnant with my second and sometimes it just feels like these little years are never going to end. Id be lying if I said I’m not starting to feel a touch burned out. Its helpful to know that other moms have been through these experiences and have shared similar feelings. My heart is starting to feel a little more at peace today reading your post and thoughts from the other mom’s in your comment section. You’re right, we really should do our best not to wish every moment away.

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Lindsey B says · 07.14.22

Thank you for sharing Kate! It has been special to watch your kiddos grow. From here looks like they are great kids in good hands. Looking forward to that phase of life as well, but trying to stay present in the toddler years!

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KAREN Hobson says · 07.15.22

I have 2 kids almost 5 years apart in age. They were very different children, opposites in every way. They are now 35 and 30 and still different in every way…but opposites of the way they were as kids. She’s a homebody and he has friends out the wahzoo. She always had to have a boyfriend and now husband. He’s 30 and footloose and fancy free!! But both have the travel bug!! Time does fly….enjoy the ride!

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Janie Bitter says · 07.15.22

Wow, you put into such eloquent words exactly how I have been feeling lately, with my kids being 5,8 & 10 now. I love how reflective you are around your role as a parent and I really admire your parenting skills from the little snippets you share on IG and your blog. You are doing a fantastic job ❤️.

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Sarah says · 07.15.22

Such a wonderful post! Something I’m truly trying to soak in with my 1 year old right now. Enjoy the phase we’re in and look forward to the phases to come. It all goes fast!
I’ve loved reading your perspective on your parenting experiences previously and am thankful for what you share with us.

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Christy says · 07.15.22

Kate,
You are amazing! I have two kids that are now 19 and 20 years old and I can say that the ‘seasons’ are STILL constantly changing and require my parenting techniques to evolve with it. The teenage years for me were the hardest to adapt to due to their need to become more independent and private yet my need to still be involved in their lives and still be protective! Just my two cents here, but since you are grappling with it, I would say that you may want to consider being a little more private with your kids (I love hearing all about them) but THEY may not appreciate it when they get older and have people know their personal lives not on their terms. Keep being awesome!

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Susanne says · 07.15.22

Wow…that was insightful.
I guess babyhood was difficult with you being the breadwinner and having to parent two needy little humans. Good job:)

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Selena says · 07.17.22

❤️❤️❤️

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Charlotte says · 07.17.22

Thank you for always being so willing to share your life with your readers.

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Amanda Troutman says · 07.17.22

Yes girl, don’t wish away a single moment! Even the hard. The impossible. Whatever it is…breathe it in. You’re doing great though, realizing the fleeting is all you can do to hold on. Being present and watching it all roll by. Enjoy, savor, you’ll never wish for a work “thing” back…but always the kid moments.

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Jill Baxter says · 07.18.22

I know what you mean about how fast the time goes by when having children. I only had 1 child, a daughter at 33 years old. She is 25, almost 26. She got married last fall. It was bittersweet for my husband & I.
Enjoy each year with your children. I’ve been following you since Emily was a baby. I’m realizing the time goes by faster the older we both get.
You’ve been blessed to have 3 adorable children. 😊
Jill

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Melissa Jackson says · 07.18.22

I love this! We are in the same boat. Our daughter is 9, and our son is 8. We have a little girl due any day now. I love all the seasons. Being able to talk to them about life and all their “big” feelings is so great, but also challenging sometimes. There is beauty in every stage, we just gotta stop and see it. It feels like we are starting over, but I promised myself we would soak it all in and not rush it this time. Plus, we have helpers!

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Leann says · 07.18.22

I loved when you confessed that”they were right” about how fast they grow! I remember feeling the same way. I’m now a Nona watching time fly with my 4 grands. The knowledge that the days are indeed long and the years are short is what makes grand parenting the best. Or maybe that’s the wisdom that comes with age.
It seems like you are being intentional with your mothering and that my dear is the best way to not miss the important stuff.

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Jennifer Folino says · 07.18.22

From my vantage point as one of your followers, I think you and Justin are doing great! You are a great team and have a wonderful balance with the job of raising three kids. It’s a joy to watch and I enjoy everything you share. 💗

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