younger vs older kids, and life right now

February 3, 2015

Josh and I were both off this past weekend — the first since mid-December.  It was long-awaited and much-needed.  We spent some time together, but also took turns with A&C for part of the time.  Both days, I let Josh sleep in but then headed out to barre (Saturday) or run (Sunday).

There was swim class, lunch with friends, and even a black-tie gala.

A w/ multiple flotation devices
(her class is kind of chaotic but I think she’s learning)
C in class with Josh
Rent the Runway came through for me again — note the wet hair and look of relief
(this was sent at the 11th hour as my initial dress pick was a total fail on!)
with my actual date πŸ™‚
It was a lot of fun, but it was also somewhat exhausting.  Our kids are just at really tough ages right now — for different reasons.  Annabel is — well, I don’t want to say terrible 2s/3s/whatever, but she is really really challenging.  I try all of the tricks like offering choices, trying to be firm, time-outs when needed — but find myself floundering a lot, and getting truly exasperated, which didn’t used to happen.  It doesn’t help that she is so verbal that I often expect her to behave like an older child, and I have to remember and accept that she is not yet 3 (will turn 3 in April).
Her favorite expression right now is “Yeah, but [fill in the blank with some opposing statement or something totally random]” and it is driving me crazy.  
ME: Annabel, it’s time to get ready for swim class!
A: Yeah, but I don’t want to go.
or
ME: Annabel, let’s do a bath with Cameron!
A: Yeah, but I’m playing with my Elsa doll right now, so . . . 
(she will say this and trail off after the “so”, like “duh mom, THAT’S not going to work for me.” 
It’s like she has discovered that she can acknowledge what I want her to do but simply choose not to do it.
She might be going through a thing.
She is creative, happy, so sweet to Cameron.  Her laughter is infectious and beautiful.  She also definitely has a stubborn streak and likes to do her own thing.  

And I’m finding it a challenge.
Meanwhile, C is much less willful, unless you are trying to change his diaper or his clothing.  He’s in that stage of being one moment away from an injury that you have to prevent at all times.  Also — not to gender stereotype, but he is far more reckless than A ever was at his age.  (I think the early androgen exposure on little baby boys’ brains probably does do something!).
On Sunday, we went out to lunch with one of Josh’s friends from high school and his wife and 2 kids — a completely adorable and happy family.  Their daughter is 8, and their son 4.5.  I watched, definitely envious, as they calmly ate their meal together and the kids joined in the conversation.  In A&C’s defense, they were pretty well-behaved too — both ate, and neither tried to run away or had any epic spills.  But still — even in the best of circumstances, it’s so much more labor-intensive and distracting to dine with an 11-month and 2 3/4 year old.
I asked the mother of the older kids (also a pediatric specialist, by the way, so I was probably projecting a little) whether she missed the baby days.  She admitted that she missed the pure sweetness and snuggles sometimes, but for the most part she enjoys her children much more now that they are older.  It helped me so much to hear that for some reason.  Sometimes I feel like a bad person because I find these days to be a struggle.  I LOVE both kids and cannot imagine life without them.  I have zero regrets, and watching them grow up is amazing and rewarding.  HOWEVER, I am just going to come out and say that I don’t love the current stage we are in.   It is all-consuming and between the two of them just feels physically and emotionally exhausting to me.  Life is punctuated by the sweetest of moments, but I find it incredibly tough from day to day.  
I am greatly looking forward to A&C growing up into slightly older kids so that things are a little different.  Not necessarily easier, but different and perhaps more my scene.
I have a feeling that I am not the only mother of younger kids to ever feel this way, but I haven’t heard a lot of people come out and say it (or write it).  
If you have older kids, do you look back and miss the early days?  Or are you glad that you have moved past diapers & naps?  Can anyone else relate?  

10 Comments

  • Reply SusannahEarlyBd March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Your feelings are valid! I have two children with extremely different temperaments and personalities and can say that some kids really are more challenging than others, especially during certain stages (for us it was 3-4.5 with my more challenging one). Parenting has been so humbling for me…I was raised in a pretty authoritarian household, but my siblings and I were also just not kids who ever challenged much…it is part of my personality. My older son couldn’t be more different and it was very tough to realize that no, he wasn’t going to just do what I wanted, even when I used ALL of the typical parenting advice thrown at us. There were certainly times when it felt like all day, every day was a battle, and I’d hear from other parents that that wasn’t their experience because they "set firm limits" or "were consistent" and it drove me insane because I’d be like, I do, too! Our second son helped me realize that all kids are different and that although there are plenty of kids who respond to the typical strategies, there are also some who are just tougher/have more of a mind of their own at a younger age.

    I really have no specific advice because every child is so different and is motivated by different things. What has helped us over the years is a visual routine chart (magnets he moves for getting dressed, brushing teeth,etc) and timers, particularly sand timers from a company called Lakeshore Learning. As he got older, I used his love of competition to make transitions into "races"—I race him up the stairs for bedtime, etc. But A could be totally different. It is obvious she is a wonderful child and has tons of strengths, and that obviously you appreciate that. Hoping this is a briefer phase for you =p

    As for the daily grind, although it is often so tedious and so tough, for me I love the sweetness and the comic elements of the younger ages–it helps that they can always make me laugh. I also know that the older years are probably going to be way tougher in terms of bigger issues (if getting dressed was such a struggle, how about teaching him to make safe/smart choices about the big stuff?). But I hear you!!

  • Reply MurdocksMama March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    As a mother of two young ones just 18 mo apart {was 3 in October and will be 2 in April}, I completely understand! I LOVE my kids dearly {& miss those sleepy newborn days}, but the days are exhausting! I keep telling my younger sisters {both just married last summer} that they suck every last ounce of my energy, so go, travel & explore now! πŸ™‚ I will say, 2 & 3 is easier than 1 & 2 was…so hang in there! I think it’s just going to keep getting better and better! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Erin March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I think I’ve commented this before here, but yes, the stage you are in is THE WORST! I think the 2 year age gap is among the hardest, even though it’s the most common. Having a nearly 3 and nearly 1 year old – I do not miss those days AT ALL. I look back at the first basically 2 years of having 2 kids in a fog, and only after my youngest turned 2 was I able to kind of see the light – that hey, I DO actually like parenting, just not babies. I LOVE having older kids (not like mine are old – 5 (girl) and nearly 3 (boy)), and even agreed to have another one, which I NEVER thought I’d do until my youngest was almost 2.5. I’m looking forward to having a much larger age gap with this last one! Most of my real-life friend circle also agrees that the baby stage is generally not fun – although I did love the lack of talking back and the innocence, and snuggles. (my 3 year old is still a big time snuggler thankfully)

    I don’t have any advice for getting through it, just know that it’s all a phase and that it really will get better and easier and more fun.

  • Reply Rinna March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Have you seen the movie, Boyhood? If not, you must! There is a line in that movie where Patricia Arquette (playing the mom) says: "I thought there would be more…" The thing with kids is that life with them moves simultaneously so fast and so slooooowly, especially at the phase where you are (essentially with two toddlers on your hands). But my kids are now 10.5, 8 and 5.5 (plus a "surprise" baby due in late April/early May) and I can now count on my hands the number of summers we have left together as a nuclear family before my oldest hits adulthood. And, you know what, I don’t want to say "I thought there would be more" when that point hits – I want to feel like I maximized my time with my young-ish children as much as possible…So I’m feeling much more sanguine about having to start again with breastfeeding and diapers and all that jazz (even though it was initially a shock!) because I know that phase ends and, in the long term, their needs are so simple as babies and toddlers relative to what they need as preteens, teens and even adults. Anyway, not in any way trying to sound preachy. I get how you feel COMPLETELY. I think I’ve commented before that life gets a lot easier when the youngest child turns 3, and it does…it really, really does. AND, at the same time, I also promise you that when you are on the other side of it all, you will (sometimes) feel like maybe everything that seemed like such a big deal when they were almost 3 and almost 1 really wasn’t…

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    This was a very thought provoking post for me becuase I could identity with some of the frustration. In so glad I’m not alone. My little one is just learning to talk so a lot of his frustration comes from not being understood. He also likes pushing boundaries food wise. I will never judge a parent who feeds their child ‘junk food’ ever again.

    I don’t know how I survived the newborn and infant months but I did. From the todler years, I will miss the naps. That time where we can all recharge rand regroup.

    Best of luck, you’re doing a fantastic job.

    SSG xxx

  • Reply Ameena March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I love the honesty of this post.

    I had Maya (my 9-year old) way before any of my friends and so nobody could understand how hard I found motherhood. I truly didn’t enjoy it until Maya was maybe 3 + when she could finally communicate and sleep and eat and thus I wasn’t a zombie at work.

    I obviously don’t have 2 kids but based on the one that I do have, there are challenges (homework mainly and friend-drama) but things are 1,000 easier than when Maya was a baby.

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Well, you know how I felt about the baby stage. Awful awful awful. The biggest reservation I have about having another is that I will have to go through THAT again. I am told I have an easy child though. Even so, she has definitely entered a new stage. Two months ago she was still all about pleasing me, and now she’s more about pleasing herself. Meh. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much as having to feed her/pump every 2 hours. Every kid’s different though. I think it also helps that we have our au pair stay and entertain her in the early evening so it’s not all on me and I can get stuff done and have some me time (like right now!). She also probably watches too much tv for the same reason. Oh well.

  • Reply Hotpotatokate March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I enjoyed age 2, but nearly 3 OMG. There’s a lot of lovely, but a lot of difficult and I have been more than just exasperated with T at least a few times a week, and exasperated a whole lot more. It’s a tough age for the easiest of kids, and T has always been quite intense. We make the same mistake of expecting him to act like a bigger kid as he is smart and verbal, but he’s also not even three yet, and still really so wee. I think it would be definitely be a hard combination with one C’s age- at least little M is cruisy and portable!

  • Reply Kelsey March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Are you prett set on the two kids? Or do you think you want more? I love your honesty and openess.

  • Reply Bree March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I loved reading the comments here. Twins are a different baby experience, but I was just so happy to be done with babies. Now is challenging too and I can relate to feeling like I am not great at this parenting thing. I lose my cool and both my husband and I talk about not yelling/losing our cool, but we both do sometimes. I also don’t want to wish it away…so I struggle. Like a previous commenter, I have co-workers with high school age kids, and it really hit home when they were talking about their last family vacations this past summer. Summer is such a big deal here (Minnesota!), so we are always looking forward to it. Then I started thinking about only having 18 of them before they leave home. Each day is such a rat race, I try to get through them and savor the weekends when life is more relaxed. I guess I don’t have a point, but as much as I look forward to them being older (3 in April), I have to remind myself to not wish it all away ALL the time.

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