Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

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.

RELATED: The Ugly Truth of an Overwhelmed Mom and Resentful Wife

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.

RELATED: I’m Between Babies and Big Kids

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.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jennifer Craven

Jen Craven writes about motherhood in all its complexities. She is also the author of the novels, "A Long Way From Blair Street," and "All That Shines and Whispers," which is set to publish in Februrary 2021. Jen's work has been featured in The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Motherly, Her View From Home, Huffington Post, and more. Visit her at www.jencraven.com, or follow her on Instagram @jennifercravenauthor.

Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up

In: Motherhood
Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up www.herviewfromhome.com

There it was again in my Facebook feed: someone’s post of an adorable birthday girl with a sweet smile and a sprinkled cupcake, ready for the eating. And beneath it, along with the likes and loves? A sad, crying Facebook “reaction” face.  Which breaks my heart. Tears and sadness because this little girl is turning a year older? Because she’s “growing up?” This is all over Facebook and the mom blogging world these days. Last times posts and “I’m so sad my baby is getting older” pieces…and crying-face emojis in reaction to a happy birthday picture. And I get it: I...

Keep Reading

I Love This Predictably Boring Stage of Life

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Relaxed mother and daughter

The calls have been frequent in the past year or so.  “Guess who’s pregnant!” “The wedding is scheduled for December.” My nana has 11 grandchildren total, me and my sister and our nine cousins. Only four of us have not married, become pregnant, or had a baby this year. I am one of the four. RELATED: Parenting Older Kids Can Be Lonely After so many phone calls celebrating the family news, I started to feel a little boring . . . and washed up, maybe? There has been no life-altering news from my house, nor do I plan for there to...

Keep Reading

Having Big Kids is Pretty Great, Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Big brother gives little sister piggyback ride

Gather round young moms of babies and toddlers. I have a story to tell. I went to the gym. By myself. And left all the kids at home. Together. Alone. I’m just going to let that sink in for a minute. Yes. That’s right. I have reached the season of motherhood when the kids dress themselves and use the bathroom alone and grab themselves a snack and do chores around the house and stay home alone for an hour or two. And it is life-changing!!! Why has no one ever told me about this before!?!?! I can go to the...

Keep Reading