Having kids is hard. Having kids is a ton of work. Having little kids.... is hard. Having a 2-3 year old... even harder. They require lots of food, water, attention, love, and discipline. Some days you're totally on survival mode, just praying for bedtime to come soon. Some days you're enjoying them so much you realize it's 30 minutes past bedtime before you even begin brushing teeth. It's comparable to a roller coaster ride with all of its ups and downs.
Most days, I admit, I really like my kids. They're cute, typically well behaved, and their lots of fun! Other days, well...
When the five year old spills an entire cup of juice in the living room when he knows he's not supposed to take drinks in there..
When the eight year old disobeys you numerous times when she knows better...
When the two year old makes disasters constantly throughout the entire house of catastrophic measures... and whines and cries for what seems like hours...
It gets hard to enjoy them.
I can remember when each of them were newborns. Spending all night long fighting the urge to fall asleep while I nursed them sitting up in bed (before I mastered laying down nursing when they were a bit older) and I'd think, "this will be so much easier when you're older..."
I can remember when they got older but were still waking up at night to nurse thinking, "life will be so much easier when you're older and not waking up at night anymore..."
I remember once they got older and they hit the "terrible two age" thinking, "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be out of this phase!!"
Then, I remember reaching age 3 and really thinking, "Holy cow... please turn 4 already!"
Age 4 comes and it's a glorious age. Then age 5 sneaks right in... and I think, "No! Go back! I loved age 4!"
Age 5... the age of Kindergarten, the age of reading, the age of big-kid-ness setting in. The age of, "Oh my God, I want my baby back. Where did your chubby cheeks go? Where did your baby laugh go? Where did my sweet toddler go? Where did you go?"
Age 6 comes all too quickly. Speech is pretty down pat, people know what you're saying all of the time, and you know who you are. You have your likes and dislikes set in stone. Friends begin to become very important and you are learning how to pick and choose them carefully.
In no time you're 7. What a big kid... how are you 7? Weren't you just turning 1? I know, I know, you're too big for "that" and you're too old for "this." Are you sure you don't like Blue's Clues anymore? What do you mean you want to watch High School Musical? Where is my baby?
Age 8... the last age I can speak of for it is the age of my oldest currently. Age 8 is a wonderful age... as they all are. Age 8 is the age of awareness, at least for mine. The age of her own style, and not a cutesy "thrown together" toddler own style, but really - who she is. Preppy, jock, princess... she knows what she likes and that's what she wants. The age of REALLY thinking about what she wants to be when she grows up. The age of friends calling on the phone, coming over for "girl time" and giggling in the backseat of the van - whispering back and forth thinking I can't hear them in the front. (ha! I can!) The age of grown up teeth almost all in, rolling eyes at the "little kids," and needing your own time to yourself to think.
Weren't you just born? Wasn't I just wishing you would grow up? Didn't I just cheer because you slept all night? Didn't you just fit into my cradled arms? Where did you go? Where is my baby?
It is true. Life is so much easier when the kids grow up. Now that the youngest is 2, the middlest is 5, and the oldest is 8, we can go and do whatever we want most of the time. No one cries in the car, no one has to be fed and burped 30 minutes down the road, and everyone can walk to and from our desired play places. Now that my baby is 2 and my other babies are even older, I look at them and am astonished that it's gone. The babyness.. GONE. Did I wish it away? Did I not realize how precious those amazing short months were with them when they were so hard and demanding? Am I doing it now?
As the two year old enters super-hard-to-handle territory.. I catch myself thinking, "once you get out of this phase..." often. Then, at night, when I rock him to sleep and he lays stomach to stomach with me as I rub his back, I think, "I just love this phase." I love the toddler giggles, I love the 5 year old that's clumsy and silly, and I love the 8 year old that is learning how to be a young lady. Soon I'll wake up and they'll be all grown up. Maybe by then I'll stop asking where all of my babies went. In the meantime, I will try to stop and enjoy each phase the ages bring, because all too soon, life will be easier.