Friday, January 25, 2019

Things I Will Miss About This Stage

I'm going to be honest, this stage of parenting that we are currently in--with 5 kids from ages 11 to 2--is really exhausting. The combination of tween hormones, severe autism, sibling dynamics, and the terrible twos all at the same time leaves us falling into bed completely exhausted around 8:30pm every night.

In the midst of all of this, a week or so ago I got to where I began to ask myself what there was about this stage of life that I was supposed to miss when they grow up. Like seriously, it is so hard that I couldn't imagine missing any of it. I let myself wallow in that sentiment for a day or two before I realized that this wasn't going to get any easier, so I needed a change of attitude if we were all going to survive.

That's when I started making a simple list of things I could think of that I really would miss about this stage:

  • Them wanting to snuggle up next to me
  • JJ bringing me flowers
  • Sneak attack hugs and kisses
  • Sweet mispronounced words
  • Them being little and smelling sweet
  • Haylee doing the dishes
  • The way JJ and Abe love the cats
  • Reading with them at bedtime
  • The girls getting along so well
  • Drawings and coloring sheets that say, "To: Mama and Daddy"
  • Strings tucked into underwear as pretend tails
  • The girls' drawings of made-up families and stories they write about them
  • Abe saying, "I want ta _________ (sit, read, snuggle, etc) wif youuuu."
  • Jude pressing his smooth face against mine
  • Them wanting to be close to me
  • JJ's backwards shirts and shirts tucked into his underwear
  • Abe saying, "Mama yook!" (look)
  • Hearing the girls practicing playing their instruments

I made it to about the 3rd or 4th item on that list before I was sobbing uncontrollably. I've been keeping a running list on my phone ever since that day, and it has been such a good way for me to choose to notice the sweet things about my kids at their current ages.

This exercise was the perfect reminder of how precious this fleeting time of their childhood is. And as if I needed even more reminders to cherish this sweet and exhausting time of life, I started working on a photo book that took me back through the troves of old pictures of them. Seeing before my eyes how quickly the last 10 years with Jude (he will be 10 in less than 2 weeks, and don't think for a second that I'm handling that well at all), 4.5 years with Haylee, Taylah, and JJ, and almost 3 years with Abe have already gone is an instant reminder that they will be grown before we blink twice.

It's also helped to reflect on how much easier things have already gotten as they've gotten bigger. The first year or two of having 4 kids, ages 2, 4, 5, and 6, was BRUTAL. The girls almost daily had huge meltdowns, JJ was in the terrible two and threenager stages, and Jude was much more difficult than he is now. Now the girls happily cook and clean, they are all imaginative and funny, Jude has come so far, and Abe is often a delight (when he isn't losing it for no apparent reason, because he's two and painfully strong-willed). So even though it is still so hard many days, the perspective of time reminds us that they do grow and get easier in many ways.

I'm posting this today to hopefully encourage you, weary mom or dad, that there are things to cherish and miss about even the hardest seasons of our kids. If you need a reminder, trying making a list and flipping through old pictures, but I take no responsibility if you end up in a puddle of tears like I did. 😉

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