I am at an age where I have now successfully parented children at every age and stage. I’m a grandmother and it’s a good time to reflect on what my favorite parts of parenting were. I know it can be hard to appreciate a difficult stage like sleep training or potty training when you’re in the thick of it with a screaming child or cleaning shit out of a bathtub drain (this is something happens to a lot of us… if you’ve escaped it so far, lucky you!)
But truly, as tired and frustrated as you may be, infancy is the ‘golden age’ of parenting. None of the crying that they do is out of spite or with an attitude for not getting their way. Babies have no responsibilities that put pressure on the parent/child relationship – no homework deadlines, no social pressures, no reason to argue, debate or be exasperated. Especially for first time parents, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that as infancy ends and you start to finally get more sleep, you have a front row seat to the most incredible and important time in a human’s development which is the first 3 years of life. Everything is new and you get a chance to see bubbles or balloons for the very first time again, through your child’s eyes. It is truly one of the most enjoyable parts of parenthood and it can be so intoxicating that it inspires you to do it again. And again. (Then the realities of how much they cost and your standing in society as a non-wealthy person puts the kibosh on any more of them.)
So next time your baby wakes you up in the middle of the night and won’t go back to sleep and you’re falling asleep at your desk, or you’re wiping a shit storm from butt crack to neck crease, remember that this is the simplest it will ever be. Ok, so you’ll never miss the smell of a dirty diaper, but you will surely miss being able to hold your child in your arms and knowing that your loving embrace, voice and a full belly are all they need to be happy.