Mama, if you are still in the trenches of newborn sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, or potty training, then look away… this post isn’t for you. It’s for parents of school-age kids.
Those early days and years were hard! I loved that stage, but I would be kidding you if I said that there weren’t moments in those early years when I dreamed of having those ever so slightly older kids. I daydreamed about being able to eat my food while it was warm, about not having to help wipe someone’s butt several times a day, and about the unicorn of motherhood… being able to send the kids out to play with the neighborhood kids and trusting they will be okay without me following along behind them.
And those things ARE amazing. When they happen that is. Because it’s not really that simple after all.
A friend recently made a statement to me during a conversation about there being this “sweet spot” in development that rests between those early years of high dependency for the daily grind and what I am discovering are the later years of high dependency for learning what it means to actually be a human being in this world. Truer words were never spoken.
I remember when I first experienced that sweet spot. It was the year I realized I didn’t have to be IN the pool with my kids. Instead, I sat on the edge and watched them play. I was confident in their skills in the water and they were confident enough without me to go make friends. I even allowed myself to start reading FOR FUN again that year. But, that year was a tease and I can’t help but feel a bit like I got the wind knocked out of me as my kids continued to grow.
Mamas, parenting school-age kids is HARD!
If you are now in THESE trenches with me, solidarity friends because there is no guide book for this stuff. There is no What to Expect the First Time Your Kid Gets Bullied or a Common Sense Guide to Helping Your Child Make Friends While Not Sacrificing Authenticity.
Parenting school-age kids is every bit as hard as parenting them in those early years. I would actually argue that it’s MORE difficult because the pendulum has swung. In the beginning, it was about mostly meeting physical needs and building those attachments that would give them emotional security. You were tired, sure, but it was about simple life lessons with a lot of grace because they were so little and still learning. It may be true that as they grow, they can fend for themselves when it comes to many physical needs, requiring only moderate or minor supervision. But, they are still learning and the emotional needs are so much more complex. It’s not simply about not hitting and sharing your toys. It’s about the INTENTION behind your words and teaching them the balance between standing up for themselves and offering grace.
I am a child development specialist by trade, but nothing prepares you for the first time your child cries those tears of someone who was genuinely been hurt by her peers or another tough hand life has dealt her. Nothing prepares you for the first time you feel true disappointment in a decision your own child has made and you have to have a Full House-style heart-to-heart with them. The issues they are dealing with are SO much more complicated than they were when they were small. There have been several times this year that I have found myself wishing for a guide book to help me navigate this season of parenthood of raising school-age kids.
Of course, we all know the books don’t really tell you anything, anyway.