When I was a kid, I loved playing with baby dolls — rocking them, swaddling them, and dressing them up in a million different outfits. I even had one of those disgusting dolls that you could feed water and then the water would come out the other end because I guess changing diapers was just so much fun. I thought that having a baby would be the most wonderful part of parenting, all of those adorable little clothes and teeny tiny shoes and baby smiles. That was the part of motherhood I was looking forward to.
But now that I have older kids, I’m recognizing a different reality. It’s a magical reality in which I feed a child and I don’t have anything to do with what comes out the other end. It’s a reality where my kids are fun and hilarious and real human people with real human ideas. It’s a reality where, when people ask me if I’m going to have another baby, my ovaries practically secede from their union with my uterus all by themselves.
There are many beautiful things to expect when you are in this sweet spot of parenting where you don’t want any more babies:
1. You only wipe countertops.
You don’t have to wipe other people’s butts or faces or hands or any other body parts but your own.
2. You don’t worry so much about things like electrical outlets.
Or stairs, or that your toddler will turn the stove on, or swallow a marble, or stick random shit up their nose. Bigger kids remember to look both ways before they cross the street and life generally has less fear. At least until they start driving.
3. You only dress yourself.
I can just say, “Go put your shoes on,” and in, like, five hours it will actually happen.
4. They play…by themselves.
And not just for five minutes while you use the bathroom. You don’t have to constantly monitor if they are using Sharpies for things that Sharpies were not intended for, or putting lotion in their hair, or eating dirt out of the plant feeders.
5. You will never have to buckle your kid in a car seat again.
This seems like a minor thing until you realize that you have been buckling children in a car seat for 10 years about five times a day — which equals over 18,000 times of buckling and unbuckling. No wonder I’m so tired.
6. They can help out around the house.
They can carry groceries, clean toilets, and help with laundry. I told my son the other day that I started doing dishes when I was 10, and now that he was 10, I was retiring. He didn’t think I was serious, but I think I might actually have a doing dishes retirement party for myself.
7. You can watch movies together that don’t have the word “princess” in them.
You can play fun games that aren’t focused on someone learning the ABCs. You can go on bike rides and everyone is pedaling their own bike. You can go out to restaurants and everyone sits and eats.
8. They want more independence.
Now that my son is in fourth grade, he is allowed to walk to and from the school bus by himself and he thinks he is the coolest thing ever. He’s ready for more responsibility and I am so ready to give that to him.
9. The emotions are usually not as intense.
I mean, we still have a good cryfest over here every once in a while, but my bigger kids aren’t throwing themselves on the ground in the grocery store or being carried out of buildings screaming and thrashing because they couldn’t get something from the vending machine.
10. You can talk to your kids about stuff.
It’s fun to see into their worlds and minds now that they can communicate real sentences about how they are feeling. They can tell you if they are struggling or excited about something. The jokes are still bad, though. So painful.
While there were definitely parts of having babies and toddlers that I loved, bigger kids are proving to be my favorite stage so far. Now, if we could just work on those eye rolls and aversions to showering, we’ll be golden.