It seems from the moment that you announce you are expecting the advise starts rolling in. ” oh all the sleep you will loose” ” I hope you are going to breast feed.” ” let me tell you all the diaper$ and wipe$ really add up” ” oh the stretch marks” “lets not even talk about your sex life” ” “your money & your time will never be yours again” Ahh yes all this wonderful advise that came my way when I announced I was going to be bringing a new life into this world. Yet know one, not one single person bothered to inform me that babies are the easy ones.
It’s true. Either all my friends were just scared of hard work, because lets face it babies are about 99% manual labor. Feed, change, rock, repeat. Or they were trying to save me from some truth they had learned but didn’t want to admit. This truth ..that in comparison to shaping someones spirit, personalty, and morals, babies are actually easier.
Lets recap shall we…. they hand you this warm, sweet mini version of you & your husband that you are now responsible for. Yes it is terrifying at first to have to be 100% responsible for keeping this little being alive. (if you had seen my house plant collection you would be nervous for my children too) but soon you get the hang of it o,r at least memorize the on call number to your pediatrician so you can reassure yourself you are in fact doing it properly . You can even measure your success based on height, weight, and the ever popular compare your kid to others test. Yes you are tired, and may not be as fashionable as you once were (no spit up is not the new it accessory for spring) but as long as your child is growing and clean you are pretty much mother of the year.Despite all your baby sign language, breast feeding, & playing Mozart as long as you are meeting some basic needs your baby will thrive & do well.
Now fast forward 8 years. You have a moody 2nd grader trying to find his way in life. The manual labor is really pretty minimal. He sleeps all night, can get himself a drink or snack. He can read so spell talking with your spouse no longer works. He can use the bathroom all on his own, he can tie his shoes, ride the bus, swim, ride a bike, do almost anything with out your help. However he does things like break rules, lies, test your patients, tries to be sneaky, beats up his little brother (ok, not really beats up but more than picks on)
So now instead of having to feed, change, rock repeat, you are responsible for discipline, shaping, moral teaching. You must let him learn & grow but keep him close & safe. You now have to entrust his care & education to a group of people, and a teacher that spends more time during the week with him than you. You have to help him through the tough parts of being a kid, being in school, friendships, competition, and growing up. When you catch him on the roof after he was caught up there last week & promised not to do it again, You have to now choose a proper punishment, give a grace filled speech that will shape his moral development all while holding on to his heart and letting him know how bad it is to be on the roof. Yes I think babies are the easy ones.
You see I am not one to shy away from hard work so manual labor really isn’t that big of a deal to me. You just do what you need to do to get it done. When you are done with physical work at least you can see the fruits of your labor. Right there in front of you..clean house, clean baby, folded laundry done! Zip Zap mom of the year! But this big kid thing is so hard. I never know if I am doing it right. I spend most the time worrying over how I have shaped my older son, what sort of therapy he will have to undergo when he is grown to fix all that I have messed up. oh babies are the easy ones! I spend a large amount of time thinking things like, did I do that wrong, or could I have said that better, I was too hard on him, I let him get away with too much, Is it this hard for everyone? You see when that little ball of sweetness grows into a smelly toothless little boy figuring out he has is own will, and opinion often times separate from yours that is when the real work begins. Where was that advise?
why didn’t someone tell me to just enjoy the quiet smiles, the coos, the time when life revolves around you. yes it’s busy, and sleepless but it’s not the hardest part. It’s not guiding them, shaping them, having to discipline, or let them learn life’s lessons. I have no idea if I am doing this right. All I can do is pray that I am coming close to what my big kids needs. There is no bench mark, no gauge to measure if what you said sank in, or if something you did today will be the one thing he remembers & hates you for or loves you for later.
So I say give me a fussy, baby that I can sooth and have evidence that I did a great job when they are happy & sleeping peacefully in my arms over having to guess as to whether I did a good job or not based on the expression on an eight year old’s face. Yes I say babies are the easy ones. While eight year old’s can be pretty great they are defiantly a lot harder on my heart.