I still love my children
The other day we had a play date with a few of my dearest friends. Sadly, my children were among the oldest in the group and not only did it make me feel my own age, but I got a little nostalgic remembering how cute my children were when they were younger.
At our play date was an 18 month old who looked just like my own daughter at that same age. My heart melted watching her mother nurse her. I smiled when I saw her go down to the playroom only to come back up the stairs with toys "hidden" behind her back. I even felt the flooding of memories when her mom, mid-conversation, routinely changed a poopy diaper like it was no big deal.
When my children were younger I remember thinking that life could not get any better. A huge toothless gummy grin from a chubby baby, a toddler peeing on the potty by herself, a 3 year old writing his name or reciting the alphabet correctly for the first time; my children amazed me daily.
Mommy Secret Reveal: It scared the crap out of me.
I know I worried about how I could ever find them this miraculous when they got older. I remember specific moments of panic and worry, wondering if I would ever be able to love my babies the same when they became kids.
While shopping at Target I would see a 5-year-old boy scream at his mom. I would watch 10 year olds roll their eyes at their dads at the grocery store. At the park I would see teenage siblings argue, ignore each other, leave each other out, and all around just be mean to one another.
How could I love my children when they got older, more independent, mouthy, and, probably more than anything, didn't need me as much anymore?
Well let me tell you something I figured out pretty quick: It actually gets better.
My kids are still adorable. They are still wonderful. My heart still bursts with love constantly. I am excited to get up and spend time with them every day knowing that half the time I'll be happy with them, and half the time I'll be disappointed.
And I'll admit that what makes my cup runneth over has changed.
I am surprised by the maturity of the conversations I have with my 9-year-old son and it makes me explode with pride. My daughter has the kindest heart and not only does she take care of her 5-year-old brother with the love a little mother, but she actually listens to me and helps me without complaining (I know, right? You are all super jealous). I will admit that my 5-year-old son will be my challenge; but his defiance and stubborn personality could also be the sign of a future leader who has many great ideas. I can't stop my heart from skipping a beat when he matter-of-factly spouts demands at me in his wrong-pronoun-toddler-talk that I know will very soon correct itself and likely disappear.
Looking back I see why the mama of five years ago was afraid of her babies growing up. I understand why she was worried that her kids wouldn't be as cute. As fun to be around. As needing of her. As easy to love.
I wish I could go back in time and tell her it will all be okay. Yes my amazing 7-year-old daughter told me yesterday that she doesn't like me anymore after I sent her to her room. Yes my 9 year old told me last week that he wanted a new mom after I took his Xbox away. Yes my 5 year old relentlessly pees in his bed many nights a week.
I am not saying that these "older" child problems are all amazing. They are not. They are sometimes actually pretty defeating and horrible to experience, both emotionally and physically. It is so exhausting some days.
But some days it is so wonderful.
At times I get tiny glimpses of the good, strong, independent people they will become. At times I just have to write a Facebook status about the hilarious things they say. At times I am amazed at the academic, social and athletic feats they accomplish.
Yes, what I find adorable is different now. But different is not worse. Different is different.
And, honestly, I can hardly wait to find out what new, wonderful, different things I will discover and love about my children tomorrow.