When my kids were little and my biggest accomplishment was getting out of the grocery store alive with a newborn, a 2 year old, and a 5 year old, I used to look at the parents of older kids with pity. Maybe it was lack of sleep (27 straight months of not sleeping through the night destroys a lot of brain cells) or maybe it was just my post-post-post pregnancy haze that made me feel sorry for them but for whatever reason, I was sad that they were past all the baby and preschool stages.
Those moms would come out of the grocery store pushing a cart with an elementary kid, a pre-teen and a teenager all trailing behind. And those kids were definitely not as cute as my angelic precious little babies. They had on scuffed-up, untied shoes, messy hair and were rolling their eyes at their mother and fighting behind her back. I used to think to myself, "Those poor moms." They were on the down side of parenthood as far as I could tell and I dreaded getting to that stage. I just didn't see how that could possibly be fulfilling or fun in the slightest little bit.
And friends' comments didn't do anything to dispell those notions. I heard a lot of comments like "Ugh. Wait until you have three teenagers! You won't think your kids are so cute then." Or "That independence is cute now but wait until she's a teenager - she'll be the one arguing with you constantly." And "Enjoy them while they're little and you can still boss them around. It just gets worse as they get older."
Well, they were wrong. And I was wrong. So incredibly wrong that I can't even fathom how I used to think that way. And I'll be the first one to admit that I would NEVER want to go back to that stage of having 3 kids in five years. I don't know how any of us survived, especially my husband.
Because, while I don't quite have three teenagers, I have a pre-teen, a tween, and a teen and this is the most fun I've ever had! Having older kids ROCKS!!! And in all those years, no one ever told me that. So to those of you with little kids who might be dreading the years to come, let me tell you this - it just gets better as they get older.
My kids are fun to be with, so articulate that I'm often the one getting corrected now, and hysterically funny. They are smart, energetic, enthusiastic, and completely engaged in their own activities and lives. And getting to witness it all and cheer them on is the best part of parenting!
Now, I realize that I still have a long way to go. The kids are 15, 12, and 10 and I know there will be a lot of not-so-fun moments and days where we all won't be able to stand the sight of each other. But right now - well - it's just the best!
And in all fairness, this stage is also very, very busy. So busy that it's taken me almost a week to write this and get it posted. And while I've been trying to find time to finish it, I've had many instances that weren't great parenting moments. One child came home from school ranting and yelling about her classmates and their attitudes, another child came home complaining that it wasn't fair that he couldn't play with his friend longer and that I had picked him up too early and the last child came home pouting and irrational about a perceived injustice delivered to her by a teacher. It is not perfect and it is certainly not fun and games all the time - it's crazy and busy and we yell and run around the house looking for lost books and shoes and gym clothes - but we're doing it together and when it's good, it's downright amazing. :)
P.S. And Erin Cobb just posted this on her blog - big kids - so I know I'm not the only mom who realizes this as your kids get older. :)