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The Upside (and Downside) of Having Older Kids

stages

I’ve written before about why the Golden Years are my favorite stage of parenting so far.  I define the Golden Years as that sweet spot when children are fairly independent but free of teen angst or irritability.  They can do many things for themselves, yet they still like me a lot and are fun to be around.

Even though I’m living in the Golden Years, and they are pretty sweet, I thought it would be fun to create a list that highlights not only the upside but the downside of having older kids.  Moms of babies, you may not have even thought about these things.  I know, you’re just hoping to get a much needed nap.  That baby won’t be little forever… here’s what you have to look forward to:

The upside: I haven’t had to buckle anyone into anything (a car seat, high chair, shopping cart, etc) for years!  The downside: The phrase “I call shotgun!” gets screamed a dozen times a day in my house and is usually followed by an argument.

The upside: My kids eat almost anything.  Based on their picky toddler stage I never thought this day would arrive.  The downside: They eat tons of food.  Gone are the days when I could cut up one chicken nugget, three grapes, and a slice of cheese and call it lunch.  Entire roasts and pizzas are inhaled before my very eyes, and they ask for more!

The upside: They earn a little spending money and might buy you a present.  My daughter bought me a birthday present with her own money this year because she wanted to, and it melted my heart to pieces.  The downside: They know how much things cost.  Two gifts each at Christmas is no longer fair if the values are vastly different.  And you can forget about giving them that empty box a 2 year old would love.

The upside: They can give you feedback on your outfit.  I like asking my 12 year old daughter which shoes look best.  The downside: Those shoes might disappear next week because she wears the same size as me.  And where’s my scarf…?

The upside: They do most of their homework on their own with very little help.  The downside: When they do need some help, you may not understand whatever awful math theorem they are using that week.  I’m pretty sure they’re doing things in 7th grade that I didn’t even learn in college.

The upside: They’ve gotten really good at solving problems on their own and taking care of themselves.  The downside: You still want to scoop them up in your arms, cuddle them, and breathe in the scent of their hair.  It just isn’t fair how big they’ve gotten.  They are still your babies.

I’ve always heard appreciate whatever stage you are in because it isn’t going to last.  I wish I had understood that a little more when I was rocking them to sleep years ago.  I’m trying to embrace it today, since I know a few years from now I’ll be looking back on my “older kids” wondering when did they get even older??

Every age and stage is sweet and tough in its own way.  All those upsides and downsides combine to form the memories of motherhood we will always carry with us.  We really do have the most rewarding and difficult job.  And even though it’s hard to do, believe me I know it’s so very hard to do, enjoy whatever stage you find yourself in today.  

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