What do you think is the best stage of parenthood?
There are many different stages of parenting that we go through with our children. Some parents find certain stages overwhelming, and some find them awesome. What I hear from many parents when I ask this question is that the stage they are in right now is overwhelming, but when they reflect on their children’s earlier stages of development, they talk about them with awe and longing.
For example, the newborn stage can be completely overwhelming, especially for a first time parent. I can remember when my first child was born the feeling of exhaustion and defeat as I stared at this tiny human in my arms that I could not console. She cried at length with impatience until I finally figured out what she needed. I can’t even imagine caring for multiples or a child with special needs! The responsibility of caring for an infant and the sleep deprivation can take a toll on all of us. Overwhelming.
But when I reflect about the infant years, I miss holding that tiny little precious baby. I loved laying her across my chest as we both slept on the couch for an afternoon nap. I loved watching her grow and develop right before our eyes. I was in shock that we could create such an incredibly perfect little person. Awesome.
Or how about the Toddler Stage? Sometimes called the “Terrible Twos” and sometimes referred to as the “Terrific Twos”, this stage presents brand new challenges and incredible moments. I remember the tantrums. Oh, there were some good ones and many of them occurred in public. Toddlers trying to assert their developing independence can result in some great battles. Perhaps at this stage you have a toddler and a baby. You have even more demands and, if possible, are even more tired. Now let’s throw in toilet training! Overwhelming.
But don’t you remember how cute they are when they are two? Their chubby cheeks, sweet little voices, the way they run at full force to you for a hug, and the intoxicating smell of a freshly bathed toddler that you wrap up in a towel in your arms all the while praying they stay little forever? Awesome.
How do you feel about the preschool stage? The whining, the incessant questioning, the over-active imaginations that lead to nightmares, or even more fun for the sleep deprived parent – bedwetting. Overwhelming.
Ah, but they never cease to amaze us with how fast they are learning and developing. Seems like they just started walking and talking and now they are learning how to read? I love the preschooler’s capability for imaginary play. A box becomes a tractor or a stick a magic wand. Creativity and imagination flourish at this stage. Awesome.
The next stage can be categorized as school age. This is from around age 6 -12 years of age. School age children are active and have needs we haven’t had to deal with yet. Homework, for one, is a new challenge. Friendships and fitting in may be other new challenges for some. Or you may have a child in sports. If you have more than one child in sports you find yourself driving them around every night of the week to their favourite after school activity. Overwhelming.
But we can celebrate now! We survived the sleep-deprived infant years, tantrum toddler years, whiny preschool years. Our child is hopefully pretty self-sufficient at this stage and have passed the toilet training. We made it. And those after-school activities can be kind of addictive. I love to watch my son play hockey. I’m a full-fledged “Hockey Mom” now. I love how he counts down the hours and minutes until his next game, and gives his best effort every time he hits the ice because he has found something he loves. Awesome.
So whatever stage you are in right now, I hope it is awesome. If you are feeling overwhelmed, hang in there. If it is not awesome at this moment in time, you will look back on it someday and realize it was.