Remember those days when your kids were little and it felt like so much work … and everyone told you “don’t worry, it gets easier.” Or perhaps your kids are little now and you’re looking forward to sleeping again and being able to eat with two hands.
I’m still waiting for the easy part. When does that start?
Sure, it’s great that my kids can feed themselves, even bathe and dress themselves without too many reminders to “use soap” and “rinse it off.” (OK, that’s just the boy … my daughter has more “products” than me, now that she’s in junior high). They even typically sleep through the night with only the occasional nightmare or illness that awakens them (and therefore me) at some ungodly hour.
But I wouldn’t say I’m any less busy. If anything, I’m definitely busier with two “big kids.” I feel like I’m constantly on the go now - a taxi and cheerleading service for various kid events.
A typical weeknight looks something like this: Pick up the boy from school. Pick up the girl from school. Drop off the girl at guitar lesson. Drop off the boy at Tae Kwon Do. Pick up the girl from guitar lesson. Pick up the boy from Tae Kwon Do. Wolf down some takeout at a park and make sure the homework is done. Watch soccer practice. Oops, forgot the step where we had to race home to pick up something that someone inevitably forgot (last time it was me who forgot to pack the shin guards). Then, hopefully everyone still manages to bathe before reading time and then bed.
My social life revolves almost entirely around soccer games and performances of some type. Just this morning, my daughter told me she has a performance on my birthday. Don’t get me wrong: I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my evening than proudly supporting either child doing what they are passionate about, even (maybe especially) on my birthday. But this is not easier!
When they were little, you could put them down (OK, sometimes) and they’d stay put. Or, at least, amuse themselves with a simple toy. No, wait, I take that back. They were always getting into something …
Fine, it wasn’t easy then, but it certainly didn’t “get easier.” Maybe we should rethink our wording here. It doesn’t get easier, but you will get stronger and better at it. It gets different.
Their needs change and your role as a parent definitely changes. Don't assume your job gets easier, because it doesn’t - assume that your job will change and you’ll continue to love it.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.