Having “older kids” is fun!

My husband has been traveling for two weeks for conferences and research, so it’s been just the kids and me, in England out of our usual element and without outside support or company. In spite of desperately missing our hero, we have been having a truly delightful time together. For quite a few years, for the most part, I felt like the most delightful part of motherhood was my husband’s return home at the end of the day and the kids’ bedtime. Now in retrospect I can see how draining, although purifying, the 3 children under 3 phase was for me. That has changed drastically. Children are always a great gift, but having a four and five year old, along with a toddler, is simply a blast:

They think all my dramatic and clever attempts at humor are hilarious, because they’re old enough to “get it” but still young enough to think I’m the coolest.

They can accomplish one part of a project while I prepare or work on another part—we get some real teamwork action going. For example, I love baking, but I can’t say baking with them was fun and productive until recently. Now they can do a whole dough or batter by themselves while I cleanup or put ingredients away.

They are old enough to enjoy books that I enjoy like the Chronicles of Narnia. I admit I couldn’t stand reading aloud to them when they were younger, even supposedly “good” literature. Now we can get lost in a normal book for as long as our 2 year old will allow it.

Their expressions of imagination and creativity have moved from slapstick spazzing or potty talk to genuinely amusing ideas that make me laugh hysterically. Not just because I’m so proud of them as their mother but because they are wildly hilarious and witty, even edgy.

They desire to be good in their hearts, not just because I’m demanding it. I witness more and more virtuous decisions being made independently, and unprompted efforts toward generosity.

They play constructive games together without my supervision—I get them started, and then their cooperation and creativity draw them into all kinds of cheerful, enriching play.

Together, we enjoy the boisterous demolition constantly being carried out by our toddler. Handling two-year-old antics is SO much happier and lighter when older siblings are cracking up and helping clean up the disasters.

There is still plenty of whining, willful misbehavior, and good old fashioned sibling bickering. But what a joy it is to reap the rewards of surviving the toddler years and having two superfun little companions full of inspiring goodness and unending laughs.

  • Mary Alice

    Totally agree, glad you are having fun!

    • JurisMater

      MaryAlice, I distinctly remember your saying this would happen (I remember all your wisdom, my friend!), but I didn't believe my kids would get here. I just thought you were a better mom than I was, with better kids! God is good! That particular hard time only lasts a few years, long enough to shave some time off of purgatory and grow deeply in abandonment to God's will and grace, but not so long that motherhood is an overall-thankless experience.I guess teenage years may rock the boat again soon enough…?

      • Mary Alice

        You've got a ways to go before the teen years, and in the meantime it will just keep getting better. An 8 year old boy is the most wonderful thing in the world. If your academic pursuits allow it, try to arrange to live in Chicago when your son is 8 so that he can watch as many baseball games with his dad as possible.

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Young Mom

    Thanks for the encouragement, sometimes it feels like life will always be this crazy.:)

  • Shelly

    I really needed to hear this now! In a couple months we will have our fourth kid which will put us with 4 kids age 4 and under! It can be very draining! Thanks for posting!

    • Mary Alice

      I had four under three — first of all, you can do it! Second, I think that JM is right that the stage is very draining, and it is so great when you can start to look out and see the light at the end of that tunnel. Be very gentle with yourself, and with them, you will have time to fix whatever falls through the cracks later as long as you put the emphasis on love. My kids didn't know about bikes or broccoli or anyother good stuff until we got away from that stage, we were just livin on PBS, Kraft Mac n' cheese and a prayer!

      • Shelly

        That is exactly where we're at right now – PBS and Mac n' Cheese!

  • Mama A

    THANK YOU! We are about to have two under two and there are times when it seems like “survival mode” will never end. It is wonderful to hear some encouragement; little ones are physically exhausting and what a nice reminder that it does “get easier” in some ways, and that all of that work you do when they are babies and toddlers comes to fruition when they're a bit older:)

  • AWOL Mommy

    Ah, go on and get pregnant already… ;)

  • http://www.familysnodgrass.com Family Snodgrass

    What an encouraging post! I have a 19-month old son and will be delivering a baby boy on Tuesday (yay!), so I know I have a lot to look forward to as they get older.I've been reading Building Cathedrals for a while now, ever since one of your fellow Princetonians recommended it. Many thanks to each of you for providing encouragement and leadership on a daily basis to those of us who are at the beginning of our own journey through Catholic motherhood.

  • http://www.happilyeverjohnson.blogspot.com Queen B

    Hee, hee! JM, you are the best! Love this so much. I agree with AWOL though….seems like a good time to get pregnant ;) Miss you!

    • JurisMater

      We agree too, AWOL and Queen B! We're just waiting on Our Lord to bless us with new life again in His perfect time!!

  • Eylhung

    Thanks, JM, for the encouragement! I've been feeling overwhelmed lately with two boys under two, especially when they both need my attention simultaneously. Your insight has helped me put things in a more eternal perspective. To all, any suggestions on how you found balance in this difficult stage of motherhood?

    • Mary Alice

      The intensity totally passes, and pretty quickly, but in the meantime try to get a break when you can, keep meals simple, have low expectations for yourself, and take lots of pictures, it will be such a blur but you will want to be able to look back and remember this precious stage. You can do it! And they will be so close one day. My kids are in three sets — 15 months apart, then twins, then 11 months apart, so I have done two kids under two 3 times! You can do it!


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