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Appreciating the Seasons of Parenting

August 9, 2010

Then...

I just returned from a great week at the beach with my husband and our three daughters. One of my dear friends was also vacationing at the same beach with her husband and toddlers. Watching her with her little ones reminded me of when my big girls, who are now in elementary, middle, and high school, were toddlers. And they’re not all happy memories…

Each stage of parenting presents its own challenges and its own joys. For me, the hardest moments were the earliest days of adjustment with my first newborn. The toddler and preschool years are the years I have always been most interested in professionally, and there was much I loved during those years in my own family as I got to participate in the growth of little minds and hearts. But while watching my friend with her toddlers last week, I was reminded of the relentlessness of the parenting demands at that age: the worry about physical safety, the constant need to shape behavior, the feeling that there could be a meltdown at any moment. It’s exhausting. I could feel the muscle memory of being physically drained during that period in my life. When my friend’s son was getting restless at one of our restaurant meals, I took him out for a walk so my friend could eat her meal. It had been a while since I held the hand of a three year old, and I have to say, it felt wonderful to feel a tiny hand in mine ~ one of the forgotten joys of parenting little ones.

...and (closer to) Now

Now I can go out to eat with my family on vacation and there are no worries that we’ll have to separate or make a quick exit. I can go to the beach and read. The kids actually help carry things to the beach instead of having to be carried themselves. I feel blessed. Yet there are other demands: trying to balance everyone’s individual interests, working out the limits of the kids’ independence, sibling squabbles, and worry about physical safety (does that one ever go away?!) and healthy friendships.  And let’s not even mention that my oldest will be driving in the near future!

I suppose the key is to enjoy the stage of parenting you are in. Easier said than done sometimes, but so important to try. I know those draining experiences of early childhood feel like they will never end some days, but they do. Your energy is wasted if you spend it wishing for time to hurry up and go by or conversely, if you spend it longing for days gone by. What season of parenting you find yourself in right now? I encourage you to try to find something to appreciate about where you are right now.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2010 8:39 pm

    Thanks for a great piece! The wisdom is in enjoying where you are. It can seem so consuming when you are in the midst of it, but most all stages and phases pass.
    Remember there is support available, and use it.

  2. August 13, 2010 1:00 pm

    Great post. I have 13-month-old boy/ girl twins and yes, it is hectic. I run after them non-stop while they’re awake.

    BUT I would never, ever have those newborn days back. That was the worse stage for me physically and emotionally, as I hadn’t a clue what I was doing

  3. August 15, 2010 9:47 am

    Your article is so true. While I miss the fun of scooping up a small child, I like the stage my kids are in now and I have felt that way at every stage- of course there are bad days and tough moments in good days – but that’s life.

    • drcuneo permalink*
      August 15, 2010 8:23 pm

      Thanks Irene and Ingrid for your comments. And Marcia, I completely hear about those newborn days. My best wishes to you keeping up with those toddler twins!

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