Pregnancy, birth, and parenting are each challenging in their own ways. Sometimes they feel downright impossible. During pregnancy, you are uncomfortable and cannot wait for your baby to be earth-side to bring you some relief. During birth, your body is pushed to its limits and you cannot wait to come out the other side. During parenting, you may feel like a complete failure and question yourself constantly.
During each season, you may find yourself asking “does it get easier?”
And the answer is “ehh, not really”
Some of the best parenting advice I ever received was from my own mother shortly after the birth of my first child. I told her I just couldn’t wait until he was sleeping through the night, or no longer breastfeeding, or no longer in diapers – something along those lines. She chuckled at me and said:
“The problems never go away, they just change as they get older”
She further explained that once they aren’t in diapers anymore, then they are potty training and that’s a hassle. Once they start talking, then they are talking at you at every inopportune moment you can imagine. Once they are sleeping through the night, then they are waking up for the day at 4 AM. The problems never go away, they just change as they get older.
This was about 8 years ago that she said this to me and it still makes me laugh. Because it’s true. My oldest son is 8 now, so we are through the infant and toddler stages. But now he thinks he knows everything and is constantly correcting us, even though he’s totally wrong. Now he pesters us over and over again to play video games or watch TV. And although we attempt to limit screen time, the kids have a way of wearing you down until you finally cave and say “OH MY GOODNESS, YES, JUST YES – NOW CAN YOU STOP INTERRUPTING MY SHOWER?!”.
But on the other hand, these words have stuck with me beyond the “problems” too. It can be easy sometimes to rush through the stage you are in, because they can be HARD. But it’s useful to remind yourself that the next stage will be hard too, just in a different way, and it can help you to slow down and remember that this too shall pass.
The days are short but the years are long – and you can never get them back.
My three children are 8 years old, 3.5 years old, and 2 years old at the moment. Every single day is constant chaos, in my opinion. We are attempting to begin the battle of potty training with the youngest, who has zero interest in getting out of diapers. The middle child… well, she’s 3 years old… and this age is just full of button pushing. To top it off, she is an extremely strong-willed and stubborn child who knows exactly what she wants (or more importantly, what she does NOT want). And my 8 year old thinks he’s grown now and has nothing more to learn. But I know that one day, they will all be grown and I will miss the 2AM cuddles, fetching them water every 30 seconds, and finding their *favorite* pair of shorts (because only those will do).
So, no, it doesn’t get easier as they grow older, the problems just evolve into new problems. And I haven’t even hit the teenage years yet! You just adapt and grow together to figure it out. Because when it comes to parenting, we’re really just winging it mostly. Remember that this isn’t a competition – there isn’t much of a right or wrong way to do it. Take your time, enjoy this season of life before it passes. But in those moments, the really low moments, remind yourself that this will pass eventually – and you’ll move on to a new issue to figure out!