You absolutely do not wish your kids could stay little forever. And you’re lying if you say you do. Maybe you’re lying to yourself too, but either way, when I hear parents say to their kids, “Don’t grow up! Stay little forever!” it drives me crazy.
It sounds like a sweet sentiment, but (aside from being a total lie) it sounds like you’re telling your kids that you’ll like them less as they get older.
Having little kids is hard — like, really hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that there’s even a time of my life that was so difficult that, I swear to you, I don’t remember most of it. It scares people when I tell them that. But don’t worry, there’s good news.
It’s way better when they grow up.
Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, they will grow up. And when they do, life will get easier, more relaxing, and much more fun. We could even be more relaxed right now if we just cut ourselves a little slack. Let’s stop feeling so dang guilty for not fully appreciating our kids being little. I’m not saying we won’t appreciate some of it, but there’s no need to get down on ourselves if we’re not feeling it (which, let’s be honest, we rarely are).
Life with babies and toddlers is a seemingly endless stream of diapers, teething, potty training, exhaustion, vomit, soggy Cheerios, screaming, blowouts, whining, squished brown bananas, and cleaning everything over and over and over and over and over again.
Sure, someday we’ll miss those chubby hands and cheeks and those slobbery kisses, but we’ll never miss the rest of that crap.
But just in case we didn’t have enough on our plates already, we add a steaming pile of guilt with quotes like this:
“It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”— Dorothy Evslin
Yeah, except when those fingerprints actually disappear, it will be awesome.
It’s not like those fingerprints are gone because our children are gone, never to be seen or heard from again. It’s because our kids (hopefully) grow up to be responsible people who wash their hands.
I’m in an interesting situation now that I have a toddler as well as elementary-schoolers and high-schoolers all at once, and I’ll tell you right now: The older they all get, the easier it gets. Older kids do chores (gasp!), they make jokes that are witty (finally!), they can be reasoned with (sometimes), and they babysit the younger kids (hallelujah!).
I actually enjoy my older kids now. I loved and adored them as babies, but now I truly enjoy the people they’ve become with their own unique talents, humor, perspectives, and wisdom. And when I see them helping with the younger kids, it’s positively magical.
Life is still rough. It’s like “left temple throbbing and right eye twitching” kind of rough. There are times that I’m being split in 5 (or 6 or 7 or 23) different directions, and with bigger kids come bigger problems. But for the first time since 1999, I am getting enough sleep at night to handle it. For once, I am well-rested and can get things done. I feel like I’m not just keeping my head above water (which I wasn’t even doing before), but actually getting somewhere. It’s a downright miracle.
Already I look back on photos that only captured the cuteness and the fun, and it makes me nostalgic. But then I remember (or realize I’m too traumatized to remember) all the stuff that was happening when I was too busy or grossed out to snap a photo, and I’m glad it’s almost over.
We’ll all be glad when we have kids who can wipe their own butts, read to themselves, wash their own clothes, and drive themselves to school. They will become productive, responsible, funny, enjoyable humans. Isn’t that the goal, after all? To raise responsible adults someday who move out and start their own family? It’s going to happen anyway, so we might as well go with it.
And if all goes well, someday we’ll have squishy little grandbabies we can snuggle all we want, and then give them back to their parents at bedtime.