My Kids Grew Up – And I Like Them Better

I am currently parenting three kids, the youngest of whom is eight.

Thank God.

Because parenting two toddler boys who were only sixteen months apart nearly killed me.  Yes, I adored them.  Yes, I loved snuggling them and rocking them to sleep.  Yes, they were cute and funny and broke my heart open in new and wonderful ways. But it was exhausting.  And I’m not a high-energy gal.

The boys’ needs, both physical and emotional, took it out of me.  Sometimes, as our then family-of-four pulled into the driveway, I would put my seat back, close my eyes and say to Jeff, “I’m not going in.”

“What?”

“I’m done.  I’m just gonna lie here, while you go in with the boys.”

“Seriously?”

“Yup.  What I really want to do is run away.  I’m choosing to stay married and stay in this family, but I cannot go into that house and deal with kids and dinner and toys and baths and bedtime.  Come get me when they are in bed.”

Jeff never tried to convince me that it really wasn’t that bad.  And he never tried to make me feel guilty.  He quietly took the boys inside and prayed that I wouldn’t make good on my threat to run away.

It was a good move, because I never sat there for too long.  That small act of rebellion was all I needed to remember that I had a choice.  I could leave if I wanted to.  And I didn’t want to.

I stayed.  I kept at it, learning how to shed layer after layer of selfishness I didn’t know was there.  Learning how much I could give, and how to admit defeat when they needed more than I could give.

And then they grew up.  And Nafisa came to live with us.  And things got better, in part because I like older kids.  Here’s a short list of why it’s better to parent eight-year-olds than toddlers:

  • They can stay up to watch the Olympics without being jerks the next day.
  • They can talk with you about God, and wombats, and hurt feelings, and you can all grow in the process.
  • You don’t need to take a suitcase of supplies with you just to drop off a book at the library.
  • They tell jokes.
  • If they wake up at 5:47 am, they can make their own breakfast.
  • You can read the same books and teach them your favorite card games.
  • When they help you clean, it’s actually helpful.
  • They develop passions, and you get to watch them become someone you never imagined.
  • They do their own laundry.

Sure, I look at their baby pictures and experience a sense of longing.  I remember their first steps, and their chubby little hands helping me mix cookie dough, and I miss those little guys.  But I like (and am probably better at) raising older children.

A couple months back Ezra wrote in his journal, “Daddy comes home tomorrow.  I’m so excited.  He’s my favorite parent.”

That wouldn’t have happened five years ago.  When they were toddlers, they wouldn’t have told me that I really need to take a shower, or that my butt is “really cushiony.”  They weren’t disobedient and snarky.  But the truth is I like these snarky, insulting children better.

So why, just when the boys are becoming less needy and more enjoyable, would I decide to homeschool them?  Homeschooling upsets the typical developmental trajectory, making them needy in whole new ways.  Homeschooling re-ignites my desire to hide out in the car.  So why do it?

Mostly because we decided it would be good for the boys and good for our family life.  But also because I sensed that my desire to run away from anyone’s dependance on me was not such a good thing.  (More on that tomorrow.)

What about you?  Do you miss those baby days?  Or are you finding that you like your kids more as they grow up?

  • janis henning

    I loved my kids when they were babies, and when they were toddlers — and remember, I had 3 kids all within 3 and a half years. When I look back on those days now I wonder how I got through all the “busy-ness” of raising them. Then they were middle schoolers and high schoolers and our lives became busy with everything they were involved in, and our family grew to include their friends. I loved those years, too – and wonder how I got through all the adolescent hormones and demands for independence. Now my kids are young adults – one in college, one in the military, and one in grad school. Two are on their way to getting married and having families of their own before too many more years. I love that they are now not only my kids, but my friends as well. We hang out, we talk, we laugh…..There are times I miss those baby days, but the kids I have now are the ones I have always hoped to one day have :)

    • Tara Edelschick

      I read a piece by Anna Quindlen once, where she said that having adult kids was even better than having young kids. I didn’t believe her at the time, but I’m starting to think she might be right.

  • Kim Daniels

    I love this age now. The baby/toddler age was crazy. While I’m sometimes not a fan of teenage boy, pre-teen girl and 8 yr old boy, I do love watching them play hockey, lacrosse and baseball. I love watching gymnastics meets. I love cheering their accomplishments loudly and applauding with the other parents. I love their passions for things and helping them get there. (Says the mother who is pulling her hair out with the private school application process because this is what the oldest wants to do.)

    • Tara Edelschick

      The best part of my week many weeks is sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game. Neither of my boys is particularly gifted, but they LOVE it. So I love it. And watching them work hard, and get better, and learn how to lose and to win – well, it’s just awesome. I have been wondering if I’ll like it all so much when they are teens. Nafisa is fifteen, but she is 4 standard deviations out in terms of being an easy teen. I don’t imagine I will be so blessed with the next two.

  • Sharon Ogea

    I loved all ages, and it’s especially rewarding when your kids grow up and become also your friends. But then it becomes even better when your grandchildren share their lives and grow up and become your friends. And then they bring their children over and, if you’re fortunate enough, you get to share the lives of their children (your great grandchildren). Almost everyday Isaiah comes home with something new to share. Today we went to McD’s for lunch and drew with blue chalk on the wet sidewalk until his was covered in blue. Each moment is precious and rewarding in itself and to be treasured. I think there is a reason God provides for us to have children when we’re young. And that those young baby/toddler years are much shorter than the adult years. We grow with them. My 2 oldest were 11 months apart and I worked besides. Mike came along later. We were really young, made lots of mistakes, but they tqaught me more than I taught them I think. And we’re still doing that. Your boys are wonderful Tara, and SO engaging. You have a great family.

  • Annette Bannister

    I have four children who range from age 7 down to 11 months. My first two are sixteen months apart (so I hear ya’ on how hard that is), and my last two are nineteen months apart (it’s amazing what those extra three months do to ease the insanity). I am in the throes of craziness right now, and it’s good to know that it does get easier. I find that I am enjoying my two littlest ones much more than I enjoyed my older two at those ages. I think that having two older ones help out with picking up toys, etc., makes it easier to raise the babies.

    I was intrigued by your statement that homeschooling delays normal childhood development. I have wondered about that. Are my children more attached to me than “normal” children because I make up a larger percentage of their world than I would if they were at school? Is this a gift to them or a hindrance? Have you read about this somewhere? Thanks.

    • Tara Edelschick

      Ooooh, Annette, this is a great question. I don’t think homeschooling disrupts development the way a childhood psychologist might think of it. Here, I was only referring to the fact that just when the kids were spending more time at school and leaving me with more free time, we decided to teach them at home. Still, I think your question is a good one. It must be true that our kids learn some things later than other kids. Sometimes that may be a good thing. Other times it might be a problem, right?

      Check back on Monday. Your question gave me an idea about what I’ll post for Monday Memories, when I re-post a piece from the past.

      • Annette Bannister

        Okay, thanks!

  • Teresa Connor

    thank you for all your stories…it was crazy last night, trying to get the kids to sleep. I’m exhausted and was feeling a bit down. I’m looking forward to the days ahead. Thank you!


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