After living in what seems like a blur of three small children for the last few years, I can feel the weight of parenting getting lighter.
When you’re in that blur of the first few years, the load can seem heavy and the work non-stop. Always fixing the meals, dressing the little people, being 100% responsible to make sure no-one rides their bikes out onto the roads, the list goes on (and on).
But lately I have noticed that those hard yards are getting lighter. Easier. Less intense.
The eldest at five and a half years old is able to competently get his own breakfast. He has enough strength and control to pour milk onto his cereal (and also his sibling’s) without tipping it all over the table and floor.
He can also open a tin of spaghetti, cook it up, and serve it safely by himself. All I have to do is turn the element on for him and stay around to supervise. I’m so thankful for one meal that I don’t have to prepare for the kids, that I don’t even care that it’s not very healthy.
Both of the boys are safety conscious enough now that they stop at intersections without me having to remind them. They bike along the footpath, zooming ahead of me, who is following behind with the buggy. They’re WAY ahead by the time they get to an intersection, and they stop and peer back at me, waiting for me to catch up. I bet they’re thinking “come on Mum, why so slow?!”
They also occasionally dress themselves. I know. It almost seems like a miracle! This week was the first time Mr 4 completely dressed himself and we were all so happy. I didn’t even care that he wasn’t wearing t-shirt underneath his jersey. Whatever works, son! I’m willing to celebrate that!
Our eldest has also flourished in looking after his little toddler sister. He can lift her out of her cot, and bring her out to breakfast. If we hear her waking from her afternoon nap, I know I can ask him if he wants to get her, and he’ll jump at the chance. When I give him the time and space to take responsibility for her, he will hold her hand, help her climb things, and lift her around the place. It’s a delight. He also hits her across the head sometimes too, never fear; no kids are perfect.
These little things make the weight of my parenting role much lighter.
I know that people say “enjoy the little years”, and I honestly am trying to. But the reality of parenting three small children is that there’s almost constant jobs to do for them/with them. It’s really just within the last few months that I’ve started to feel the intensity and burden of the hard manual years of parenting get ease and get lighter.
I know that there are other challenges ahead. The continued emotional and social growth of my children, the guiding and walking alongside. Heck, I know that parenting never ends.
But for now, I can feel the weight of parenting babies, toddlers, and small children lifting, and it’s a blessing that I intend to soak in.
May this time be remembered as the parenting milestone that it is. Small children growing up, becoming more physically independent and responsible, and flourishing into the next stage of their childhoods. Using those skills that I’ve spent the last few years repeatedly teaching and showing them. All my hard work is paying off. The next stage is coming. And I’m grateful.
This article appeared in the Autumn 2019 issue of Family Times Magazine.