Monday, May 04, 2009

parenting doesn't get easier

you know, when i first had blake i couldn't wait for him to get older. i kept thinking how much easier it would be when he wasn't a baby, or a toddler anymore. how when he could do more for himself, and be less "needy" this whole parenting thing would get less demanding.

i was an idiot.

it doesn't get easier as they get older. it gets different. it gets tougher. sure, feeding them might be easier and you don't have to help them go to the bathroom anymore. but you know what gets harder? everything else. because they start being put into positions where they have to make tough decisions. they have to start thinking for themselves. they start having consequences for their actions. the peer pressure begins. they start growing up. and the minute they start doing that, your job as a parent gets more intense. this is when the answers you start giving to the questions truly start to matter. because they not only listen to what you say, but they actually do (or don't do) what you tell them.

it's so funny how much pressure we put on ourselves as parents to be there for our kids when they are babies. when the truth is that our babies could probably spend the day with their aunt from kansas twice removed, and be perfectly fine. babies don't need much. don't spaz out, you know what i mean. they need fed and changed and napped.. and of course it's wonderful to spend time with them. they're so defenseless and tiny and everything is a new experience for them that it's amazing to watch. i get it. i've been there. but i think that our kids really need us as they're getting older. when life around them starts to get challenging. and scary. (and please don't make me talk about the homework) we take all this time off of work when our kids are first born, as if that's the only time it matters that we're around. as if they really need us then. but in all honesty, i think it's US who needs them. because we feel guilty if we're not there. and we don't want to miss out on anything. not the other way around.

i look back at blake being a baby and truly think that wasn't the time he needed me to be there for him. i see him now and it kills me to not be there. you know? and this is just the beginning. i know that with jr high and high school i'm just going to feel this more. those are all critical years. i realize you can't stop your kid from making mistakes and learning and growing. i just think it's so interesting the pressure and demands we put on ourselves to be there for our children when they are non decision making infants. and how when it's probably better for us to be there for our kids, we're not. all i know is that i take full advantage of those mornings blake hops into bed with me and talks my ear off. and those nights where he starts to really talk about the things on his mind. i don't care that he's completely avoiding going to bed- when i get him to talk, i take it. cause i know that possibly someday (sooner than i would ever like) that may stop.

19 comments:

Angelika said...

I've noticed Evan talks the most when we go do the laundry. Don't ask me why.

OMLY, he's going to talk my ear off after school today...

laurie said...

I just recently have been able to stop helping C in the bathroom. I was so excited...and then I read this. Kidding. I know it will change and be different, but I figure I'll grow with him, help him along the way - it's not all the sudden I have to be able to steer his decisions immediately, just like any other phase. But I agree, sometimes I get so caught up in being excited for him to get older - that I do miss some of the daily nice things about this age! Thanks for making me think about it.

Cagey said...

I have always heard this - "you take care of babies, you parent children." A big difference, as you have explained.

Wryly, I joke about how I am glad my kid has good self-esteem right now. He better enjoy it before junior high beats it out of him.

Nora said...

WHAT (picking myself up off the floor)....it's not going to get easier???!!!!!! Well, at least we have boys. I hear girls are even more of a handful as they get older.

Anonymous said...

Dude. I'm a girl and I have no idea what you're talking about. Parenting is nothing but a piece of shit.

Alison said...

So true, Jenn. It is definitely worth it to be a stay-at-home mom during the middle school years. Financially, I won't be able to do that, but teaching at their middle school is the next best thing. :) My poor, poor children.

I'm Still Me said...

I fully believe that parenting will be much harder when children get older but I do not agree with your comment that a baby could be with their aunt somewhere and not care. Laying the ground work of being there for our children starts the day we are born. If we're not there in the beginning, why would they trust us once they're older?

PS~Erin said...

Oh, I couldn't agree with you more... This growing up thing is tough. My daughter is 6 and she already has those catty girl problems with friends at school. I think it breaks my heart more than hers though. And then she doesn't always want to spill all the info I'm craving to hear. She tends to talk more at bedtime too, and I'll take it!

Wonderful post... Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Jill said...

As usual a very good perpective. Talk about not getting any easier even when they are in their 30's. Number One son pitched last night for the first time and it did not go well. We talked for 2 hours last night with me trying to get him to not throw out the baby with the bath water.

So I am not sure it ever stops but please CHERISH the time you do have Jenn, they grow up way to fast.

Ali said...

the difference for me, i think, is that when they were babies i was physically exhausted, and now that they are older, i'm mentally exhausted. the problems are different, yanno? but i can totally see what you're saying. emily needs ME now, it's not about just meeting her basic needs. it's much deeper than that.

Mayberry said...

I think you are so right, and it scares the crap out of me, because this is ALREADY HARD!

Becky said...

could not have said this better myself!

Lisa said...

I have a 15 year old son and I couldn't agree with you more.

Karen MEG said...

You're bang on with this one. Here I've been thinking that working out of the home may be more of a possibility after both of them are in school all day; but as they get older they get needier on a different level, and I agree with Ali, it's totally emotionally and intellectually exhausting.

And the talking thing, I'm wondering when that's gonna settle. The 4 year old asks about 560 questions a day, about 250 of them the same ones; the 9 year old'd standby one-liner is "fine". No happy medium, sheesh!

Life As I Know It said...

When I had my first baby and would complain about ear infections and not sleeping through the night, I'd got this advice "little kids= little problems, big kids=big problems".

Yeah, I totally am getting that now. I can't even imagine how many gray hairs I will have once the teen years start.

Jenn said...

Great post Jenn. My kids are still little and I often go through the same wishes you did. The post gave me things to think about.

Thanks

Jenn

Angelika said...

You have a High Five from me HERE

Anonymous said...

I'm 27 years old and feel like I've leaned on my parents more in this year alone than I can remember. I ask them EVERYTHING.... what do I do about car payments? What do I do about buying a house? What do I do when I don't have a job and I don't know what I want to do and I total my car and get turned down for a job interview in the same day?

He'll always need your help, and you'll be there for him any way you can.

Anne

Spidey said...

Fuck, it's going to get harder! What did I get myself into? ;)