Enjoying the Ages and Stages

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Enjoying the Ages and Stages - We moms get the privilege of growing alongside our children. You cannot become stagnant.

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These are my “littles”. As you may know, I have six children. Currently, they are divided into “the big boys” and “the littles”.

Of course there are other ways to group them: the boys and the girls or the big boys, the middles, and the girls. But, these days for most experiences, their interests seem to divide at the age of 12. This is the U12 set, and they are a fun bunch.

That’s not to say that the big boys aren’t fun. They totally are, but they don’t get excited about things — at least not the same things — as the littles.

Last week, for instance, while the big boys were at science class, the younger kids got to do a variety of things: examine rocks through a telescope, read books, and played an at-home version of Chopped. I gave them each three ingredients as their required foods and they got to add to their dishes from a limited “pantry”. They had a blast.

And they weren’t self-conscious or inhibited like my teens might have been. I dunno, I could be wrong. But, if they’d been home, they would have secretly wanted to participate but perhaps shied away from it due to embarrassment.

This 12 and under thing? It’s in my wheelhouse, as they say. I’ve had kids in this age range for a very long time. It’s fun; it’s comfortable; it’s an age and stage that I know well.

Enjoying the Ages and Stages - We moms get the privilege of growing alongside our children. You cannot become stagnant.

These are my “big boys”. They are on their way to being men. And I love the men that they are becoming!

It’s a new world. Not just one of man-smell and weird habits and jokes I don’t always get. It’s a stage characterized by growing independence and an inborn desire to be respected and treated as an equal.

I’ll confess, I’m in over my head. Don’t get me wrong. The teen years have been utterly fabulous thus far. These boys are good kids. I’m proud to be their mom.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about my own competence, about my own responsibilities, about my own role to play in their lives on their way to adulthood.

Of course this has another wrinkle since I’m also their primary teacher and school counselor. It’s a weighty responsibility, true, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As long as I don’t totally screw it up.

Enjoying the Ages and Stages - We moms get the privilege of growing alongside our children. You cannot become stagnant.

The baby stage, the one that I knew so well for years, has passed. I was, at one point, a self-taught expert on diaper changes, childhood rashes, homemade baby food, and carseat safety. Now, my “baby” is five. She takes care of her own business, feeds herself, and can latch and unlatch herself in the car.

I’m a little forlorn; I’ll admit. I have several friends and acquaintances with new babies. I see their instagrams and get a little pang of homesickness. That was a sweet stage, and now it’s gone.

I wonder if I made the most of that season. If I think too long and hard about it, I can become overwhelmed by regrets. I regret not having been more rested, more patient, more “in-the-moment”. Honestly, though? I was surviving. And that, my friends, was a win!

I think that’s part of that stage: surviving.

The only thing I can do to redeem those days is to make sure I don’t squander these days. Even when I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

That’s the beauty and mystery of motherhood, I guess. That we get to roll with the punches, grow with our kids, and continue to learn. We cannot become stagnant because they are not stagnant. They grow and change and mature. We need to do the same, right alongside them.

Every stage is beautiful. Every life is beautiful. Even when you don’t get it or don’t know what you’re doing. Enjoy each and every drop of goodness that comes your way, Mama. I’m sure gonna try to.

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  1. Love this post! This week I’m struggling with our “stage” in life. We have a 3 year old and have another on the way and it may very well be “the last baby”. I was all for it in the beginning of the pregnancy because I was so miserable but now that this baby is wiggling around I’m struggling with not having this again and this baby’s firsts being our “last firsts.”

  2. Loved this post! I’m navigating several age groups at once…I have big boys 15 & 17, my middle boy 10, and the little boys 4 & 1. Sitting here right now holding my 1yo while he sleeps. Enjoying it too…because as I watch my 17 yo drive off to work, I know how quickly it goes by. The teenage yrs are hard! We’re trying to find the balance of independence and guidance and learning to let go and let them find their own way (sometimes watching them fail) I love the men they are becoming…miss the sweet babies they were!

  3. oh, wow- i feel exactly the same about my 3: girls turning 18, & 16, and the boy-man, who turns 13 in a few weeks, and fits your description exactly as one who wants to be independent, respected and treated as an equal. I’m definitely out of my element with him now and we are both learning how to transition into a new kind of relationship, especially since we are together. a. lot. 😉 thanks for sharing, Jessica!

  4. I needed to be understood today as I am feeling immensely overwhelmed raising my 7 boys. It is the mess of the home that is getting to me. I loved every word you wrote, so thank you for taking the time to share your heart. Blessings to you, sweet Mama!

    1. I had to come to grips with the fact that my house would always be noisy and the toilet always a little on the gross side. Hang in there, Mama!

  5. Thanks for your words of encouragement. My “littles” are 6, 8, 10, and 12. Life is different now. I do long for the baby stage at times (especially when you stumble upon baby pics and videos thinking who are those people) but we are thrilled we get to experience life in a whole new way. I do need continued guidance and prayer as we have entered the middle school world this year. My oldest daughter has entered into a world of drama, pressures, and boys. So far it has been great! She is making wise choices with her friends and being who she was made to be instead of pre-tending to be someone else. Just hope we can continue to pour into our 4 kids to help them become great, bold leaders for their futures!

  6. Mine are 4yo, 2yo & 9months. We tried for 3 years to have a baby and then we had #1. So when #2 & #3 came along they were fantastic surprises! I am fully into the diaper changes and making baby food, trying to find a sitter to watch 2 VERY rambunctious girls is difficult. And I LOVE IT. I realize that I have two that don’t talk yet (2 yo has speech delays) and a 4yo who’s vocabulary is beyond her years, I often have spit up on my shirt, marker on my pants and a messy house, but I wouldn’t change it. Before I became a mom, I worked with teenagers and I loved that I could have conversations and can’t wait for that with my girls, but I love every stage they are in and try to enjoy it.

  7. What a wonderful post! My baby is only 20 months and we are pretty sure she is our last, but that doesn’t mean I still do not get weepy thinking about how that stage of my life is over. I still believe that having a newborn is one of the hardest things ever in life and even though I’ve done it three times, there are still lots of challenges oh but the rewards are so abundant!

  8. Thanks for this. My youngest is still little, but he’s most likely our last and I feel like I’m mourning each stage as it passes. Thank you for your sweet words.

  9. My “baby” is 7 now. 🙁 It goes by too fast, but at the same time, it’s so much fun seeing them change and grow.

  10. I’m the mother of a daughter who just turned 13 and a son about to turn 15. Boy, did I need to read your post this morning! Keep up the inspirational posts and feel free to write on parenting teens as often as you like!!

  11. I’m in the middle of the baby stage right now with three kids 4 and under. I definitely feel like I’m living in survival mode right now, and I love it, but I wonder if I’m making the most of it. I’m always second guessing myself if we had enough fun time or if I was too busy trying to feed everyone. I’m learning to give myself grace everyday, but I don’t even want to think about having teenagers.

    1. It’s a constant back and forth, I think. My husband called it “being nostalgic for today”. We knew we would miss those times even if they were crazy at the moment. Time’s passing is bittersweet, for sure.

  12. ” I wonder if I made the most of that season. If I think too long and hard about it, I can become overwhelmed by regrets. I regret not having been more rested, more patient, more “in-the-moment”. Honestly, though? I was surviving. And that, my friends, was a win!”

    I am completely with you. My “baby” turns six in a week, and I feel those pangs…those joy-robbing thoughts that maybe somehow I really missed it. Truthfully, it was all I could do to survive at that point in time, but I am grateful because it gives me a little more clarity now!

    This is a beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share it with us!