08 December 2008

Growing Parents

This weekend we tackled our basement. We have to ton of work that needs to be accomplished and would like to have it finished sooner rather than later. As we were painting with little people underfoot (some wielding paint-filled brushed!) and on our backs, I got to thinking about how far we have come.

We bought this house five years and three children ago. In fact, we moved in on Christopher's first birthday and I was seven months pregnant. Every wall in the house was a horrid glaring white. We painted the majority of them, but it was quite a trial. And we didn't do it alone. I remember my parents and most likely my sister, spending hours painting, wallpapering and otherwise ridding our home of white. It seemed like a major undertaking. And certainly one that Andrew and I would never have dreamed of tackling it alone. But this weekend, we had no need to call in reinforcements -- even though we have twice as many children. Somehow, in our six short years of parenting, we have learned to be productive despite little hands and feet getting in the way. We have grown in patience and ability.

I don't want to paint (haha) a picture that this past work weekend was all fun and games -- it wasn't. I was just struck by how our reactions to the situation have changed. But it made me think about all the young families, just starting out, who only have teensy tiny children and are aspiring to be something that no mother of littles has ever been. She is aspiring to be a mother to eight, when she is only a mother to two or three. Many young moms, my self included, have gotten caught up in this "blog-o-sphere of support" run by these seemingly super moms with a gaggle of children.

We log on and read that Mrs X knitted fifteen sweaters while homeschooling her seven year old in third year Latin, took all ten kids to the TL Mass, and got home in time to take her seven year old to Orchestra practice. And mom of three, with her dirty t-shirt, dirty diaper clad three year old (who is also her oldest), and mountain of laundry thinks that she is somehow failing. It's ridiculous. But what mom-of-three doesn't realize is that Mrs. X used to be her. But now, seven kids later, she has learned how to run a home efficiently, she has older kids to help, and has learned to relax. They are living in different world.

Now don't get me wrong, I think that the "blog-o-sphere" support system is wonderful and very beneficial. I don't begrudge Mrs. X has marvelous ability or her willingness to share with those of us who are less seasoned. But I do think that there is a danger that the whole picture is not always shown and those who are still in the more difficult years might at times feel inadequate.

Maybe the term "terrible twos" was actually referring to the years of only two children? And maybe this is why so many couples only have two children. Because that is the hardest time of all.

I guess this is so clear to me right now because I am in the position where, while still in the throws of the harder times, I have cleared the worst and see the better days ahead. I no longer spend my days only with people who can't carry on a conversation, follow commands, or use the bathroom.

I think these days of parenting are kind of like the transition phase of labor -- it gets really rotten for a while and then, all of a sudden, it's wonderful! And it is amazing how quickly it happens.

27 comments:

Anne said...

thanks for this wonderful post sarah.

sounds like it was written just for me!! :o)

Maryanne said...

This post definitely applies to myself, as well. SO many times I get caught up in reading these blogs and I end up feeling ridiculously inadequate. You've shared a really interesting and accurate take on that.

I love your posts! You are a great writer.

Anonymous said...

Sarah: What a wonderful and insightful post. You must have had a great mother.
Mama

LauraSuz said...

haha. I like your mom's comment.

I must say along with everyone else, great post!

Lady Caitie in the Pretty City said...

I loved this post!

By the way, Mrs. X probably has male patterned baldness or something.. you can't be that perfect. LOL

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

This post is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you!

Sarah said...

Thanks, guys!

Caitie -- you are hilarious=)

Jennifer -- I'm glad I could tell you what you needed to hear!

Anne and Maryanne -- Keep up the good work. You're great Mama's!

My Mama -- yeah, she wasn't too bad. A little crazy . . . .

Jessica said...

This is such a great post Sarah!!

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

Oh, I pray this is true!

I recently had a new mom come over, and I was struck by how little I could do when I was in that same phase, with only 1 baby occupying every moment of my day.

maggie said...

Found this through Jen at Conversion Diary. I've got a 19 month old and a 3 month old and yesterday I wrote a WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD post and today I get to read this so... thank you. I feel better!

Annie said...

To be honest, I didn't finish reading this post. I quit reading WHEN YOU DIDN'T GIVE ME ANY CREDIT FOR THE GORGEOUS BATHROOM!!!!!! Who else would have painted your bathroom nuclear-reactor green but your loving sister?!?!?!?! You people are SO ungrateful.

Heh heh heh...

JamieS said...

Wow, Sarah! Yes, thanks for the insight. I am realizing the same thing--not that I am turning into Mrs. X (unfortunately), but that it is REALLY HARD now with 2 and one on the way, but it was A LOT harder when I only had one. I can't believe the amount of things I get done now that I never thought I would do again after having my first child--like making dinner.

By the way, the 1-year-old who refuses to nap this afternoon is on the floor behind me emptying the "to be filed" box of paper by throwing each piece over her shoulder. This has become her favorite activity while I am on the computer. Oh well! I guess that should motivate me to actually file the stuff instead of put it in a box within reach of little hands . . . I know I can look forward to the time when the oldest does not nap anymore and can stop the one-year-old from getting into my stuff while I get other things done!

Jamie

Tubo Family said...

Thank you for this post. Love the comparison to transition in labor! My husband and I are wanting a third and I, a certifiable control freak, am slowly realizing that my job is not to stop the chaos but to work through and stretch myself to be more patient and giving.

April said...

This really is terrific insight -- hope for the hope-confunded, as it were. Thanks!

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I think you wrote this post for me, because God knew I needed to hear it. I'm in the throws of three children, ages 3.5, 2.75, and 10 weeks. I have this dream in my head of what life ought to look like and what I should be able to do, and I NEVER measure up. My husband wants to have more children and I'm not at all sure that I can cope with the ones I have, much less more. But your perspective was so encouraging. Someday these children of mine will be older and my life will look different than it does now.

Janel said...

Excellent post!

I'm not quite Mrs. X (I only have four - ages 5-14) but I'm past the little ones stage. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have older helpers.

Hang in there Moms of Littles. This too shall pass (quicker than you realize!!)

Kate Wicker said...

Well said and something I have to remind myself over and over as a mom of two little ones (whom I endearingly refer to as my little black holes of need) with another on the way.

Thanks for the important reminder.

Blessings,
Kate

*j-u-l-e-s* said...

what a wonderful post. thank you! :O)

Jan said...

My six are all grown up and I will tell you that six is easier than three is easier than two! By the time the sixth child arrived I had gotten my act together and had a routine that worked. When I look back I wonder how in the world I did it!

Zana said...

I'm sitting here weeks away from the birth of my third and I have a 3 year old and two year old (who are scattering blocks around the kitchen while I read your post
). Thanks, sometimes it is hard to keep perspective when reading about the Mrs. X's and wondering why I can't seem to get anything done!

Lindsey said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have 3 little ones, oldest just turned 4 and youngest is 14 months and. You are absolutely right! I remember when I had my daughter and not being able to do a thing, and now with three, it's so much easier. There are still hard days, more than I'd probably care to admit, but that just makes the great days so much sweeter. I stumbled on your blog thanks to Like Merchant Ships and am so glad to have found you :-)

lilymarlene said...

I'm the eldest of 7 kids. They had 5 of us before they were 24....later it was 6 teenagers at once!!! When we were teenagers Mum found it the hardest time. She used to say that although we were a lot of work when we were little (4 needing nappies at one time) she still preferred that time as she used to say "At least I knew what you were all thinking then!". It was the emotional, hormonal stuff she found hard

bmmellema said...

Thank you for this post and your perspective. I have 3 little ones - 3 1/2, 2 and 2 months - and it nearly brought me to tears to read of the good times ahead. It is so easy to forget that this won't last forever. So, I'll keep my head up and keep working. Thanks. (P.S. I might come read this again later when I have time to cry for a minute. I think I need a good cry.) :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post--I really needed to read this today. I have a four year old and an almost two year old, and this morning I found myself crying in the grocery store parking lot (long story) and a very nice lady came and prayed with me and said she remembered what it was like having very little kids.

Elizabeth B.

Sandi said...

Great post...so true. Thanks for reminding me I don't have to be super mom....just MY kids mom.

Sally said...

Wow... thanks for this. Another mom here of two little ones under 4 and a third due in May. I came over here from Making Home, and definitely have gotten the feeling from other bloggers in general that these moms of 4+ kids are just amazing, why can't I be like that!? You've given me some hope that maybe someday I can! My husband is pretty set that 3 is enough, but neither of us is looking much further into the future than how difficult it is now to raise such needy little ones (I loved the "black holes of need" comment by Kate Wicker). I will keep on and keep on praying about our future family size!

Melanie B said...

So very true. I've been sunk in that funk of comparing myself to Mrs X. Fortunately, when I was in the first trimester with baby # 3 Mrs. X was kind enough to write me an email one day and set me straight and offered me some sage words of advice, a shoulder to cry on, and best of all her prayers. I still have to limit my reading of Mrs X's blog because even knowing better, I still have a tendency to sink into comparison mode.

Sally,

I recently saw some very sage advice about discerning family size on another mom blog. She said she never thinks about the next pregnancy or another child when currently pregnant. That seems to me to be very sage advice indeed and I'm taking it as my rule of thumb. Worry about family size after the little one is born. God gives us the grace to deal with each child that he sends but only enough grace for what we currently have. So right now you (like me) have the grace to handle two little ones under two and be pregnant with #3. (Not easily, mind you, but sufficient.) You don't have the grace to deal with four kids yet because you don't need it. Yet. Keep praying; but focus on what you've already got to deal with now rather than what you may someday have.