Guys, I think I made it. Finally made it to that small window of time I’ve heard parents talk about for years. The one where the kids are past the never-stops-moving toddler stage but not yet to the ugh-don’t-look-at-me preteen stage.
The sweet spot.
I’m here. And yes, it’s pretty sweet.
I remember when my oldest was a baby. Everyone I knew went on and on about summer: All the fun they’d have, the trips they were planning, how it was their favorite season.
Me? I didn’t get it. My kid ate grass and skinned her knee every 30 seconds and still took two naps that consumed our daily schedule.
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I watched in envy as friends with older kids (or no kids at all) frolicked in the sunshine, hit the pool without looking like they were going on a four-day trip somewhere. They had that easy, relaxed look. You know, the one where your shoulders aren’t hiked up to your ears. The one where you can take your eyes off the kids for a couple of minutes without the fear they’re wandering into a street. A lightness that said they hadn’t been carrying a child all morning or felt the tug of a little hand on their shirt 8,000 times before 10 a.m.
I was mad with jealousy.
“You’ll get there,” they told me. “Your day will come.”
Some days, I honestly never thought it would.
Then, bam. Here I am. All of a sudden, we’ve reached a summer when I’m discovering longer stretches of solitude while the kids willingly entertain themselves (outside, no less!). Their imaginations are still strong, and their interest in socializing means setting up obstacle courses for the neighbor kids is their primary objective.
After years of swim lessons, I now bring a book to the pool. A book! One I actually get to read! At the playground, I’m no longer needed to push the swings.
Some might find a certain sadness to these new realities, a reminder of time passing day by day until you blink and your children are grown. I don’t wallow in melancholy. Life is too short. The baby and toddler days may be behind me, but I still find pockets of joy in mothering children who may not want me to kiss them in public, but still ask me to tuck them in at night.
To be honest, the baby phase wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t have easy babies. I regularly wished time would speed up, only to be riddled with guilt for feeling that way. But the truth is, I dreamed of the day I’d reach the sweet spot I currently occupy.
It feels like my golden stretch of parenting—the period when I’ll be at my best. When we’ll be at our best.
As I write this, my three kids are making a rock fort outside. One just came in and said she was thirsty. I went to get up, but she stopped me, “I got it, Mom.” I eased back down, gave her a smile. Then she was gone again.
The sweet spot is not just marking the end of naps and diaper bags and tantrums (believe me, those still happen). To me, it’s the blossoming of independence. The chance for the parent to breathe a little more. And yes, the possibility of doing more things together as a family.
When I think back to those early years with littles, I wish I’d had more patience. Maybe soaked it in a little more. Because I made it through, here to this sweet spot.
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Now, when I see the moms chasing droopy-diapered toddlers around the pool deck or dads whose eyes are glossed over as they push their child on the swing, I want to yell out, “Hang in there! Your time is coming!” I know because I’m in it.
But as great as it is, I remind myself to thoroughly enjoy this fleeting stretch. It won’t last long.
Remember those moms I once envied? Now they envy me. Theirs are now teens or beyond. Kids on the cusp of adulthood. Big kids with big problems.
“Oh, I remember those years,” they say to me now. “You’re so lucky.”
I smile because I believe them. I know there are far harder things in our future. So for now, I’ll sit back and soak it all in. This sweet spot.