Kids in Matching Clothes

I hear it said to mothers of young kids all the time: You’re gonna miss this when they’re teens.

But here’s my counter-argument: Maybe you won’t.

I don’t.

Sure, every once in a while, I long for the feel of their baby soft skin and and a glimpse of their toothless grins.

But I don’t miss my kids’ early childhoods. I don’t miss potty-training and packing for a day trip like it was a month-long pilgrimage. I don’t miss tying the same shoes 439 times a day and wiping runny noses twice as much. I think teenagers are pretty darn fun, and I would never, ever want to go back. When I think about my time as a mother of babies and toddlers, it almost makes me break out in hives. The constant fatigue, the mindless TV shows, the annoying music, the physical demands of tending to the needs of four children under the age of five. The memories alone make me want to take to my bed.

Maybe that’s the beauty of growing older with them — my body isn’t quite as willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning to clean up vomit and diaper explosions. My mind has switched from thinking about baby proofing doors and windows to monitoring curfews and social media profiles. When I look at my 40-something peers who are still in the throes of babyhood, I want to give them a medal… or some vodka. Yeah, definitely vodka. The medal would just be a choking hazard  or get flushed down the toilet.

Don’t get me wrong — I loved my babies and toddlers, and we had grand adventures when they were little. It was a magical time, but I don’t want to go back. I don’t pine for the past or wish I could relive their younger years. In fact, just think about grandparenting someday worries me a little. I mean, there’s only so much “Dora the Explorer” one can watch in one’s lifetime before one’s brain explodes. Has my mind reached maximum capacity? Maybe I’ll feel differently when the grandkids come. I hope I do. (And if being a gaga grandma is an inherited trait, my mom and sister have already proven that I’m in for a whole new phase of unabashed adoration.) But for now, I don’t miss screaming “Backpack! Backpack!” at the TV. I loved Richard Scarry, but I no longer need him to teach us the ABCs. Steve from “Blue’s Clues” was always a cutie, but life moves on. Maybe middle-aged Steve isn’t so cute anymore.

My teens and tweens turn me into Pure Crazy at times, but I love these ages. They match perfectly with my 43-year-old self. I still like to consider myself to be a little hip, and they still like to laugh hysterically at that firmly-held belief.

As much as I dislike rap music and Pop-Tart hoarding and stinky shoes, I don’t want to go back to Pull-Ups and lost pacifiers for the sake of nostalgia. I like that everyone bathes, dresses, and feeds themselves. It gives me great pleasure to assign dish-washing and dusting duties. I’m happy that they’re responsible for securing their own seat belts. I enjoy not having to cut anyone’s meat or remove the paper from their straws. I like that we can use cowbells for those who choose to ignore their morning alarm clocks. No one barfs directly on me anymore. The conversations we have at the dinner table are fun and funny and challenging and altogether entertaining. I look forward to the adults my kids will become (I get little glimpses of them here and there), but I adore the teenagers they are right now (around 95.3% of the time, roughly).

I’m grateful for Kidz Bop when my kids thought it was the coolest, but I would rather chew my own arm off than pop it into my CD player today.

We much prefer OneRepublic these days.

So, Mamas and Dads, you may or may not miss those youngest of days when your babies are no longer. It’s okay either way, I think. We all experience things the way our hearts guide us. And the best way to experience life is to be present with it — not living in the past, not wishing for the future.

The infinite wonder of these little creatures is that they grow into independent human beings with their own thoughts and ideas and fashion preferences. And eventually, they learn to drive. And when they drive, they can make late-night ice cream runs.

And that’s pretty fun, too.

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15 Responses

  1. As a grandparent, I agree with you. I love the babies– but can’t do much with them. The toddlers are fantastic- love seeing development all over again, speech, fine & gross motor, etc. But also exhausting. I do miss the teen years of my own children- now all in their 20’s — I loved the busy household, rushing to activities, friends popping in whenever and eating whatever, and being involved in their high school experiences. It does fly by so fast.

  2. I’ve gotten that comment from strangers a few times. I always get the sense they’re trying to telegraph messages back to their younger selves. For me? I’m enjoying where I’m at now, knowing I’ll enjoy what comes later in a different way, hoping this care to enjoy will shield me from someday instructing others they’ll miss it when it’s gone.

  3. I don’t even think it IS Steve on Blues Clues anymore…there was some substitute Steve who took over when my kids were a little younger… we, too, are now past that…I hear you – I don’t know that it gets any easier as much as it just gets different, but I’ll take it as it comes, and it’s all good 🙂

  4. In spite of my post today (in which I hope I made it clear that I wouldn’t go back in time even to enjoy the good parts), I wholeheartedly agree with you. My kids are 7 and 10, so I’m past toddlers and not quite to tweens. I hope I still like them in a few years as much as you seem to like yours now.

  5. You make motherhood sound like an incredible adventure! Funny thing is that my dad feels the same way about parenting little ones vs. teens. He’s enjoyed us so much more as we get older for the conversations we can have, the life choices we start to make. Great post and thank you!!

  6. Thanks for liking my post on How the Grinch Saved My Attitude! I definitely feel like each stage of motherhood has amazing qualities and also hardships that go along. Of course we can’t pick what the different stages will be like, but we can choose our attitude during these ever-changing phases (because they all do grow up!). As I sip wine and look back on motherhood, I hope I recall how I rolled with the punches and enjoyed the sometimes topsy-turvy ride!

  7. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I do not like the baby/toddler phase. I. DO. NOT. This made me laugh and gives me hope.

  8. Oh thank you for this! People think I’m weird for the fact that I’m looking forward to the teenage years. Right now my boys are nearly 4 + 6, and I feel pretty ready to move on to the more self-sufficient phases. Thanks for not sugar coating it and lying like so many women do!

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