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.