With autumn upon us, I am now Mom to a high schooler and a preschooler. This is what I have learned (so far) from having my children a decade apart:
- People assume the little guy was a surprise. In actuality, my husband was satisfied with one, but I wished for two. After much lobbying on my part we struck a deal. He got kayaks, I got #2. If only most negotiations were so mutually profitable!
- Despite a decade-long age difference, siblings still instigate and bicker like a pair of toddlers. Sigh.
- Everything evens out in the end. Most milestones happen when they happen and do happen eventually: potty training, biking sans training wheels, learning to read.
- The seemingly insignificant moments are the most relished. One of my sweetest memories is sitting on the deck of a ferry, looking out at the ocean, cradling my little girl close to my heart as the steady din lulled her to sleep in my arms.
- Habits often become rituals. Choose wisely and adjust accordingly.
- It really does go so fast. Although inconceivable while in the trenches of new motherhood, it seems I blinked and my preschooler morphed into a high schooler.
- A little bit of our full attention goes a long way. With my daughter, I believed I needed to spend so much of my time on the floor playing with her. I have since learned the value of independent play interspersed with periodic play time with mom.
- Kids hear, retain, and repeat everything we say. Until age twelve or so. Then they (mostly) only hear what you wish they hadn’t.
- Listening with your full attention is a gift. Talk less, listen more.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. I worried way too much about the little things with the older — the TV she shouldn’t watch, the foods she shouldn’t eat, which school to attend. The second one eats frozen waffles while watching TV before preschool.
- Slow down. Smell the roses and his sweet head of hair. You won’t regret it. (See #6).
- Most often it is best to just rip the band aid off quickly.Dropping my older at preschool ten years ago, I lingered guiltily, prolonging the anxiety of separation. This time around, I knew to get the heck out of Dodge as soon as humanly possible.
- There is no ideal way to time the birth of your kids, should you be fortunate enough to choose how to do so. There are pros and cons to any age span.
- Chronological age often has little to do with it. Sometimes they want to be babied and sometimes they crave independence — take their cues when possible.
- This, too, shall pass. For better or worse, it always does.
- Trust yourself to make educated guesses. You know your kids, yourself, your family. It’s not necessary to have all of the answers all of the time.
- Ultimately, the basics are the same at any age — hugs (unlimited), words (not too many), structure (with balance), restraint (often), and love.
My husband likes to joke that we should produce one child per decade.
I say fine, but this time around it will be his turn.
I’m pretty confident that stipulation will bring a swift halt to the negotiations, which is fine by me.
I already have the kayaks.