Recently, I was chatting with a friend, a mom with two little girls. I was lamenting our busy schedule of soccer and homework while she was expressing her relief at their relatively free schedule.
But then I countered, “at least mine are self-sufficient.”
Sure, there are some great things about having little kids (snuggles, adorable baby teeth, miniature clothes) but you know, having older kids is pretty great too.
For instance, when they’re itty bitty, you have to wake up when they do. Forget sleeping in. You have to feed them yourself. First breakfast. And then lunch. AND THEN DINNER. As they get older, they’ll at least be able to make their own breakfast in the morning, provided you don’t mind if they plow through an entire family-sized box of Cheerios in a day. But you got to sleep until 8! (You could have slept later, but sleeping until 8 feels like sleeping until noon, doesn’t it? What’s up with that?) And if they bring their lunch to school, they can pretty much do that on their own at around fourth grade. Again, you can’t be too picky. At the end of the school year last year, my then-ten-year-olds were bringing half a sleeve of Ritz crackers and five string cheeses and they were fine. So I guess that was okay. The point is, I didn’t have to do it.
Another task that I dreaded when the boys were babies was bathtime. Sure, I loved the sweet smell of a clean baby as much as the next person, but the whole ordeal was just too much to do more than a few times a week. Having to wrangle them into the tub and wash their hair while they screamed bloody murder made me want to scream bloody murder. Nowadays, they shower by themselves, and they actually have discovered the joy of sliding into their beds all clean and freshly showered. Sometimes they want me to sit in the bathroom with them and we chat, which is lovely. Now, sure, our water bill is going through the roof, I’m washing towels by the truckload, and they steal my shampoo and conditioner, but they smell just as sweet as they did as babies. For a little while, anyway. Let’s just hope this habit continues into puberty. Fingers crossed!
What else is great about older kids? I can walk across the street to the library and check out a book – alone. They dress themselves. I don’t have to watch inane cartoons. I don’t have to buckle squirmy toddlers into car seats. There aren’t toys strewn everywhere. I don’t have to pay for daycare! We have intelligent conversations. They understand sarcasm. They can field the questions about being triplets now.
Do I miss Yo Gabba Gabba and sticky hands and the quivering chin of a sobbing baby? Sometimes I do. But I wouldn’t go back to those years for anything. I can go hug a friend’s toddler and admire his crusty nose and scabby knees and then hand him back. I can rock babies in the NICU, and leave them sleeping at the end of my volunteer shift. If I really wanted to watch DJ Lance and Foofa, I’m sure I could look it up on YouTube.
I’ll keep my big kids, thanks.