Ok, mommas of littles. As a mother of teens, I want to share something with you. I know it may seem like mothers like me—the ones who now live with gangly humans rather than babies and toddlers—don’t understand how hard the season of mothering littles can be.
I mean, we are now removed from the infant sleepless nights, postpartum blues, and the havoc the newborn phase inflicts on the body and mind. Our kids are more like vampires who can put themselves to bed.
Mothers of older kids have traded in our diaper bags for handbags. Our toddlers have morphed into moody tweens and teens. But, our kids can get dressed on their own and cross the street without our help.
Mothers of older kids have reached a new season; it is a season that might seem a lifetime away for most mommas of littles who are in the midst of a fog, changing diapers and sweeping scraps of crumbs from car seats and high chairs. Mothering littles is constant—having someone need you every second of every day.
Mothers of older kids no longer have playdates at parks, unless it’s to watch our kids from the bleachers. We spend the majority of our time taking our kids from here to there, mostly dropping off and picking up. We are transitioning from a participant to a spectator when it comes to their activities.
Mothers of older kids don’t have to fasten someone’s seatbelt or carry snacks. Our kids can order for themselves off a menu and sit through an entire meal.
Mothers of older kids no longer hold their children’s tiny hands while walking them into their classrooms. We don’t carry their backpacks or tie their shoes. Our kids are hopping out from a car at drop-off, only rarely glancing back over their shoulders to give us a nod or subtle grin.
Mothers of older kids no longer have children strapped in carts as we walk through Target; we no longer manage meltdowns in the check-out line. Our kids can help make a grocery list and can be sent to the back of the store to grab the milk.
Mothers of older kids no longer have someone on our laps, in our arms, on our hips, on our breasts. Our kids only occasionally sidle up next to us to snuggle on the sofa and only want to be held when they are sick or when no one is looking.
Mothers of older kids are more hands-free than mommas of little, but the truth is, life isn’t easier.
It isn’t less busy. It isn’t less exhausting. It isn’t free of worry. Our kids still have meltdowns. Our kids still need our help.
It’s just different.
When mothers of older kids pass you in the grocery store while you are juggling a toddler and a baby in your arms and we glance your way and say, “It goes so fast,” it doesn’t mean we don’t see you. It doesn’t mean we don’t understand how hard it is. It doesn’t mean we don’t know your hands are full.
We are not telling you to be joyful in every literal moment.
We know the season you are in is EXHAUSTING. And challenging. And lonely. Because we have been there.
We don’t think you should enjoy EVERY moment. We can still remember the feelings of loneliness, frustration. What you might not know is being a mother of older kids can be isolating and lonely sometimes, too.
Most mothers of older kids just want to share our perspective. It’s one of the greatest things we have gained.
When mothers of older kids reflect back, most of us would not necessarily choose to return to the season of littles but rather, we understand firsthand that in a blink of an eye, that part of mothering comes to an end.
Maybe, “Enjoy it. It goes fast,” is meant as a rhetorical phrase by mothers of older kids. Perhaps it is a way of coming to terms with this fact. Maybe we are reminding ourselves.
Because you don’t know this. Until you do.
Mommas of littles, mothers of older kids see you, and most of us aren’t judging you. We want to help because we know your hands are full and ours are a little freer now.
We are on the same team. Just in different seasons.
This post originally appeared on My Battle Call by Valli Gideons
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