I keep on waiting for it to get easier…this business of parenthood. I was slammed to the wall seven years ago when my eldest, Katherine, was born. My visions of setting out perennials while my gurgling May baby kicked and cooed from a Moses basket were quickly replaced by the reality: me exhausted beyond all reason, carrying her around in the Baby Bjorn just about every waking moment (the very few when I wasn’t nursing her, that is…).
God forbid I put her down for more than a second. The swing: vile! The bouncy seat: prison! The car seat: torture! It was bad, very, very bad.
Just as things were evening off, I was getting reacquainted with the concept of sleep, and Katherine was becoming a rather charming 3-year-old who was potty trained, able to actually converse on simple topics, and no longer prone to running away from me in the labyrinthine aisles of big-box stores, her dad and I rocked her world (and our own) by bringing home baby No. 2. Robert was born when Katherine was exactly 37 months old and I reentered the swirling vortex of nursing/diaper changing/carrying the baby (Robert felt the same way as his sister about being put down). Just to make life more interesting, this time around, I was also dealing with a suddenly demanding 3-year-old…all on an average of six hours of fractured sleep per night.
Thinking back on this horrific era I have to admit, yes, it has gotten “easier.” At 7.5 and 4.5, they now can actually play together for sustained periods…usually without bloodshed! Katherine is busy with school and a couple of activities, and Robert has preschool three mornings per week, which means I am not obliged to entertain them every waking hour as “the Mommy show.” A couple of years ago, in fact, I daydreamed about this stage. “Seven and four,” I thought to myself, “those have got to be the perfect ages. Done with diapers, pull-ups and naps. No need to watch the little one every second to make sure he is not ingesting a choking hazard or about to tumble down the stairs. But still young enough to be sweet and cute–no tween attitude yet. Yes, that will be Easy Street…”
What I did not factor in was the sheer meanness that they can show to each other at times. The door slamming, the “Get out of my room!” The hitting, kicking and pushing. In short, all the sort of things that my sister and I did to one another that I somehow hoped we would avoid in this generation. Human nature being what it is, I hoped in vain.
On the other hand, they can get along when they want to, such as when Katherine patiently helps Robert write his letters and praises him for a job well done and then turns to me and says, “Mommy, Robert sure is a good writer, isn’t he?” I get a little glow inside at these times, a moment of sheer pleasure in my children, the blonde head bent next to the brown one, the two of them united. That is, until Robert declares, “Katherine took my pencil!” “Did not!” “Did too!” “He took mine first!” Smack! Slap! “MOMMMEEE!!!”
Sigh. I guess there is no perfect age, no Easy Street for moms and dads. I’ll stop waiting and wishing for this mirage to solidify and try to enjoy the brief moments of sibling camaraderie that I get to witness…before that tween attitude does arrive!
Mary Becelia lives in Stafford with her husband and two children.