Sometimes scrolling social media feels like I’m upstream in an oversaturated sea of moms with young children without a paddle. I’m swimming in beautiful imagery of pregnant bellies and wee ones in adorable hand-picked outfits. If I had a dollar for every sentimental post I see geared at encouraging mothers of toddlers, I’d be one rich mother of older kids.
I was there too, years ago. My blog was filled with idyllic photos of two babies growing up in the corn friends of Indiana and then the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I cried big tears of gratitude for the little lives entrusted to my arms countless nights as they fell asleep. Those years as a young mother of babies are blissfully treasured in my memories, a poem thick with love.
I too was a “superhero without a cape.” But there seems to be a shift.
And it happens around the time your kids start to pick out their own kind of ugly, logo-plastered tee shirts. Or go through their “I’m only wearing sweatpants” phase. It happens around the time they start school, learn to read, begin transitioning into real, bite-sized humans stumbling to get along in the real world.
The consensus seems to be that older children aren’t as interesting. The social media, Mama, you’ve got this! posts start to die down.
And I’m left a little in shock. Where are the “What to Expect When Your Child is 9” or “Starting Middle School” books? Of course, I realize there are many books written for parents of older children, but it does often feel like the limelight is on the mothers of youngins and the reverence is cast for a mama with a babe in arms or belly.
The mothers of older children are left a little forgotten.
Sure, those baby years are hard work, but I’ll tell you what, the work doesn’t die down when your kids stop fitting the bill for monthly photos with a letter board announcing their tiny accomplishments.
In fact, in my opinion, the work gets much harder. It becomes deeper, more important. Decision making flips from bottle or breast to learning when to say yes and when to say no. What age is old enough to allow your kids to ride their bikes around the neighborhood unattended with their friends? Which TV shows and video games are age-appropriate? How do I react when my child says they hate me for the first time?
Late-night, fussy baby rocking becomes consoling a worried preteen who shows up bedside just when you’ve drifted off to sleep. Coming up with coherent thoughts is more difficult in the dark of night than pulling a baby to my breast ever was.
I feel the reason there is less online content targeted toward mothers of older children is maybe because these mothers are in a whirlwind phase of life.
There is a quietness to raising babies. There is nap time, slow hours spent rocking and feeding. Big kids are loud and take up space physically and mentally. When mine were babies, words flowed out of me. Now, I struggle to put pen to paper. I have to actively find time to quiet my mind and create.
I vividly remember when my youngest was finally old enough to join his brother and run around the playground by himself. I plopped down on my picnic blanket and soaked in the sunshine and personal space. It was just as bizarre as it was heavenly to not be chasing a toddler around those steel bars for the first time in years.
Yes, you will hit those milestones. You will get your lap back, perhaps sleep through the night. (But you’ll probably still wake up worried you aren’t doing enough.) Your babies will wean, they’ll walk, they’ll go to school . . .
But don’t even think about getting too comfortable on your blanket at the park because before you have a chance to blink, the next phase—the phase of raising decent human beings—comes rolling in strong. And the world simply seems to say, “No pressure, but you better not mess this up.”