Easier

My daughter’s school district is off today for Lunar New Year (the fuck?!). It wasn’t even on my radar and thank god my daughter didn’t turn in her homework on Friday, and someone who works at aftercare heard me tell her it was okay, we’d turn it in on Monday, because that prompted her to make sure I remembered there wasn’t any school on Monday, of which I was totally clueless. So I spent Sunday at work getting ready for a sub, and I spent today at home hanging out with my daughter.

It was a lovely day. I did a project around the house that I’ve been wanting to tackle, we went to Cost.co and TJs, we watched Shrek, and I worked out while she played around on the iPad. She painted my face. We just hung out. It’s unseasonably warm here right now (I won’t insult any of you by writing an actual temperature–you would hate me) so we’re going to pick up my son early and hit up a playground before we come home.

If my daughter is given a choice she stays home with her father and doesn’t run errands with me, so usually it’s my son and I who go. He is pretty easy going in a shopping cart, especially if I give him my phone when he starts to get antsy. Still, I don’t think I realized what a pleasure it is to hang out with my daughter while grocery shopping. She’s at the age where she can have actual conversations that engage me. We tell jokes, we whisper silly things to each other, we laugh really hard in the frozen food isle. I actually had more fun running errands with her than I would have going by myself. The thought is kind of unheard of for me.

And it got me thinking, how easy my life would be if we hadn’t had a second child, how simple and manageable it would be. Of course I don’t regret having another kid, but I don’t think I recognized before what life would be like if we weren’t working through the big feelings and minimal self control that comes with being two year old, if we weren’t refereeing sibling disputes while trying to prepare a dinner that both kids will eat.

I’m also seeing what life might be like, at least for brief periods, in three years, when my son is five and my daughter is almost nine. Life is going to be easier. I’m sure of it now. I can tell we’re coming up on the side of the bell curve, crawling out of the really difficult years. The dust is settling, the air is clearer, I can almost see the fresh, cool breezes at the cusp of this hole, this crater left by the detonation that is early parenting.

My daughter has been listening to the entire Ramona Quimby Audiobook Collection. It contains every book in the series. She’s on the last one: Ramona’s World. In this final installment, Ramona is nine and her sister Beezus is in high school. And, to my great surprise, they have a new baby sister named Roberta. I must not have read this book, because I don’t remember Ramona ever having a baby sister. I missed the end of the last book (Ramona Forever), so I’m not sure if there was any talk about the arrival of the baby sister, but I can’t help but wonder what the ever loving f*ck her parents were thinking having another baby, just when parenting was getting easier (in one sense, I know parenting a high schooler and middle schooler is hard in other ways–which is another reason not to also have baby/toddler problems to the mix!)

I get that this is a book series, and I shouldn’t rack my brains over the choices of fictional parents, but I follow the blog of a family who is doing the exact same thing: the younger of the two kids is ten and they just had a baby. At my school, the families of two of my students whose youngest are 13 (in 8th grade) just had babies. I can’t help but wonder, why?!

And I know there are a lot of reasons: the parents of a new blended family want to have children together, and the children from their first marriage are a lot older; secondary infertility hits, tearing a cavernous gap between siblings; your kids get older and you think, I want to do it all again; shit happens and you make do. I get it. But man, I can’t imagine getting to that stage in life, with kids about to enter high school, and starting all over again.

I wonder sometimes, if I’m the only parent who is counting the days until it gets easier. Sometimes it feels that way. Today I got a little taste of what it might be like, and it was grand. It was what I always expected parenting would be. Maybe this season in my life as a parent is not the one I’m particularly good at. I always thought I loved young children, but maybe 0-5 is not the age group with which I excel.

21 Comments

  1. Why the fuck are you so dismissive of a holiday that a significant portion of the world celebrates? Oh that’s right, because you live in ‘MURICA and it’s not considered ‘MURICAN.

    1. I’m not dismissive of the holiday–I grew up in a country where it was a massive two week celebration–but I am surprised that our school district gets off for it, especially when city employees do not get the day off. I’m sure our district takes it because so many students would miss the day even if there were school that they’d lose massive amounts of money. So I’m sorry if my incredulity comes off as being dismissive, I have just not heard of that day being a holiday anywhere else in our area, or the country for that matter. And yes, I do live in America, so that is my frame of reference on what to expect when it comes to school holidays.

  2. Oh, I completely agree! Our kids are the same age and managing them together has been pretty difficult. My daughter turns five this week and she is experiencing ALL THE EMOTIONS ALL THE TIME and my son turns two this week and basically seems to have a death wish. We recently relocated for my husband’s job and have very little in the way of any support and it’s been a struggle. But, like you, I see glimpses of our future, when the kids are a bit older and reasonable and our lives are slightly more sane, and it’s lovely. Little kids are hard!! I am so glad you and your daughter had a good day!

    1. Little kids are hard. I’ve been up since 4:45am because my son refuses to sleep and he is loud about not wanting to. It’s hard to imagine there will come a day when they will sleep through the night more often than not, and some day I might be waking THEM up on the weekends. A girl can dream.

  3. I feel just like this! For years I’ve been wondering “how come my life is such a mess? I used to be so organized!” But now I’m realizing that I’ll get there again. It’s just been a rough few years with little kids. Not that it hasn’t been fun, but I’m looking forward to enjoying my kids AND keeping my head above water.

    1. That last line is exactly it, I look forward to having kids AND feeling like I can keep my head above water. Of course after I wrote this my daughter had a massive, one hour meltdown because I asked her to do a three minute vision therapy game, so maybe it will never be easy, per say, but hopefully easier.

  4. So happy you had a nice day with your daughter! I hope the wonderful day (and the glorious glimpse of easier times) will hold you through any rough patches in the near future.

    1. Ha. After I set that post to publish she had an epic one hour melt down, which kind of soured the day for me. Is it too much to ask to have one good day? I guess so.

      It was a good reminder that life with her will probably never be easy, but at least there will be easier stretches. That will have to be enough.

    1. I know some districts that take this Friday and the following Monday off for President’s Day weekend, but I have never heard of the Monday before President’s Day Monday to be off. And I have never heard of a district in the States taking off for Lunar New Year.

  5. There is a big age gap (8 years) between me and my younger brother which is due, as you suggested, to secondary infertility. My mom miscarried three times after I was born.

    My parents were able to afford a lot of help (baby nurse and a housekeeper who did a lot of child care) so it was easier. Also, I think my parents were just a lot more relaxed by the time the third kid came around so it wasn’t emotionally draining. I have a good friend with a seven year gap between her second and third (a bit of a surprise) and she said the third is a breeze because she is just a lot more relaxed.

    I think there will probably be a four year gap if I decide to have a second which is probably the worst possible age difference because just as things get better, I start from the beginning with sleepless nights and nap schedules and diapers.

    1. There are seven years between my sister and I. My mother lost a daughter and had three still births in between. She was actually going in to get her tubes tied when she found out she was pregnant with my sister. She was just done with the loss. My sister’s early life happened in Hong Kong where we had an “ama” (a live in child care provider from the Philipines) so I think it was easier for my mom than it might have been. I know she was absolutely done after my sister, but the loss complicated her feelings I’m sure.

      I can totally see the third being easier because you are more relaxed, especially if your other kids are older so you aren’t dealing with their immediate needs. But I still think it would be hard to start all over, and to be dealing with the immediate physical needs of a small child while navigating the complex emotional needs of older children.

      I actually don’t think 4 years is a horrible age difference. My kids are 3.5 years apart. We tried for 2 years apart, but we dealt with some secondary infertility. And honestly, I’m GLAD that that time was forced between our kids, because our daughter got REALLY HARD at 2 and we would have been in deep shit if we’d had an infant then. I am thankful for the gap, honestly. I don’t know how people do it with a two-year gap. They are made of something stronger than I am.

  6. While I look forward to the day that going out and doing activities we all enjoy are actually easy (mainly horse back riding) I am going to miss these easy newborn/early toddler days. I think the questions, and taxiing kids from one activity to another while monitoring social media outlets, volunteering at ice rinks and baseball games is going ot be so much harder than watching my two year old flop down the slide on her belly or the joy my almost four year old gets from changing her sister’s diaper is as easy as it’s going to get! The differences in people is amazing and wonderful. I am sure you will miss bits and pieces of the early years but really excel where I start to drown a bit. That is okay – I am preparing myself for it. I totally get I am a great mother to young children and am dreading the older years just a bit.

    Oh I wish we would have gotten the Lunar Year holiday – instead we got snow – BOO!

    1. It is so interesting how different people feel more comfortable with different aged kids. I am kind of surprised by how hard early parenting has been for me, but of course so much about parenting my daughter has been unexpected, and much harder than I ever imagined it would be. I do think I am better cut out for parenting older kids, even though I know there will be different challenges. I suppose only time will tell.

      1. I think I’m cut out for older kids too. I have a 2 year old and I already like it a lot more than having a baby. I mean, I know that part of it is getting over the shock to your system of having a new baby. But people sometimes talk about how their 7 month olds are so much fun or so how much they have enriched their lives and I just didn’t feel that way at 7 months. My son is really verbal and I think that has helped — I find him a lot mote interesting now that he talks. I wonder if I would like 2 with a non-verbal toddler. I’m also too rigid to skip naps or mess with bedtime so I felt pretty trapped during the baby stage. Some people are more flexible (and have flexible kids too).

        1. I totally know what you mean. I found babyhood pretty boring–they don’t do anything! I was SO EXCITED when my daughter started walking and talking and generally becoming an interactive human being. I have been much more able to savor my son’s baby and toddler hood now that I have an older kid to be intellectually engaged with; reading books, watching movies, having conversations. I have much more patience for my son hitting milestones at his own level now, which I appreciate.

  7. And yes, I know that there is when the sh*t hits the fan and in a year I’ll probably look back and think, I can’t believe I thought toddler was easier than baby.

  8. love this post. I too think that it will get easier – for both of us! Just the increased independence and ability to stay safe without literally CONSTANT monitoring will be fantastic 🙂 I have always said my least favorite age is 12-20 months and I’m really happy to be done with that! I’m also oddly looking forward to both kids being done with naps so that we can stay out during the day on weekends without having to plan around that downtime. Bittersweet of course, but so freeing!

    1. The nap thing is hard. I am also looking forward to the increased ability to be out and about once my son is done napping, but I will also miss that break on the days we aren’t out. Plus, when they quit napping, but there is still a nap time at preschool, well that is a recipe for disaster. My daughter was done napping at three and her teachers were not pleased. It was a rough two years of enforced nap time at preschool until she was finally in K.

  9. I think about how easy it would have been to only have one kid all.the.time. X is at the age that we could start doing some really fun things like skiing, planning a super sweet vacation…..but A is a freaking handful and all of that stuff is too hard still. I look forward to life with two getting easier on a daily basis.

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