It always seems, for me anyways, that others have it so much easier, that things come so much easier. I always thought...and stupidly so, I now realize...that the hardest part of being a parent was when the kids were young...the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the tears, the never ever ever having a moment alone, a good night's sleep, or a meal eaten in entirety sitting down. When my youngest were 5,2, and newborn, I had visions of how restful it would be when they were grown up a little. How it would be so nice not to have to worry about if I were doing the right thing to help them grow up happy and healthy. How it would be so much cheaper when I didn't have to buy diapers, formula, clothes every three or four months, and pay daycare. How liberating it would be to say--"get in the car" instead of loading them in, strapping them in, and packing cups, clothes, toys, snacks, diapers, books, wipes. Excuse me for a moment while I laugh maniacally.....
So here I am...on the other side of the fence, on the other side, with the "greener grass" so to speak. And finding it beautifully green in some places...watered just right, tended to regularly, just the right height, soft and sweet. But in some places, it's brown from not enough water, rocks hidden at the bottom, too long in places, bare in patches.
Sure they can hop in the car at a moment's notice (and without an extra pair of underwear too!), but they can also drive that car away...without me. They sleep through the night(and sometimes even into the afternoon) just fine, but it doesn't mean that I sleep any more. For with their growing up comes a whole set of other issues and problems...those that I can't solve, under circumstances that I can't control. In the last two days alone, I have had to referee a hurtful argument between sisters, and in doing so realized that the things that I do and say are interpreted differently by each, and not necessarily in any way as intended. I've had to struggle with feelings of inferiority and guilt while facing the financial facts of college life with my oldest. I've had to realize my limitations, the mistakes that I've made, and the certain future where my children will leave the nest---as aptly prepared as I have made them. I also came to the realization that what I once thought was the hard part, infancy and toddlerhood, while much harder on the body, is much easier on the heart and soul.
Fortunately...I get to straddle the proverbial fence, one foot planted firmly in the pastures of adolescence and the other in the world of preschool. Preparing my little girls to begin their lives, and the big kids to begin their lives outside of the safe, secure confines of our family. Simultaneously dealing with the challenges of teething and needing braces, learning to crawl and learning to stand alone, hurt knees and hurt feelings. It's exhausting sometimes. Exhilerating sometimes. Worth it always. And as I sit here with my sweet girl nestled in my chair next to me ready to go to sleep, my big kids on the couch an arm length away, and my baby girl asleep in her bed, I know the grass isn't greener on the other side. It's plenty green right here where I'm standing.