Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Does it get easier?

I keep putting off taking on extra responsibilities at work, saying, "I'll do it when my life gets easier." I figure having a kid in her terrible 2's is some sort of peak of difficulty. It's got to get easier than that, right?

However, this weekend it was my grade schooler who managed to:

1) Burn her finger and injure like three other body parts

2) Wake me up WAY before I was ready on daylight savings Sunday (daylight savings is meaningless when you have little kids)

3) Not allow me to have even ten minutes to rest after a several hour excursion to the mall

Plus, whenever I make comments along the lines of that it will get easier when they're older, people are fond of telling me, "Oh no, it just gets hard in a different way."

So which is it? Does it get easier ever?

18 comments:

  1. I think physically the 2s are by far the most taxing time. However, the worries are just so different as kids get older. When they're little, you spend a lot of time and energy on their physical safety - are the blind cords up? everyone out of the street? - that kind of thing. Into the pre-teen years, our focus was more on influence - should she watch that show, hang out with that friend, etc. We felt very strongly that she was being shaped by the things around her. Now that we have a teenager, there are all these new headaches about boys, freedoms & letting go (WHY WASN'T I WARNED?!). I don't think I worried any less when she was little (because I'm a safety FREAK) but the scope is a little different now.
    Also, grades. ugh.
    - DoctorGrace

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  2. OK but maybe more to the point of your question, I have waaay more free time now, and life is overall easier. It probably helps that I share interests with my daughter so sometimes hanging out doing something fun with her is also just naturally something fun for me (unlike when they're little, sometimes you have to "make" yourself play their little games).

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    1. This is what I'm hoping for...that some "me time" or "fun time" can be combined more with "childcare time", and that it doesn't feel so much like WORK. Which, yes, when I'm tired and have a million things to do, "helping" do toddler puzzles or clean up play doh is WORK for me.

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  3. Mine is 13 and yes, it's way easier in most ways than when she was 3. WAY easier. She is pretty self-sufficient - gets herself up and dressed and ready to go in the morning, manages her schoolwork, does her own laundry, eats pretty much anything we serve. As Grace says, I no longer have to force myself to feign interest in toddler games; I am genuinely fascinated by conversations with my daughter now. I have more physical and intellectual energy and I can definitely do more of the things I want to do.

    Lots of my friends say adolescence is harder, and I know we may have a rockier road ahead of us, but mostly I think they're trying to exert a level of control that is simply not feasible.

    Nearly a year into official adolescence, I definitely think this is easier.

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  4. Well... my oldest is 10 so I don't have a teenager yet, but I would have to agree that it's hard/busy in a different way. (And my youngest is two next week so I'm in the middle of toddlerdom as well.) My 10 year old and 7 year old are obviously much more independent than a toddler, don't need constant supervision, and don't get up in the middle of the night, so easier in lots of ways. But the thing I'm finding harder as they get older is that they're getting involved in more activities, and need to be shuttled around, and last Saturday I missed most of my daughter's first swim meet for a f!@#$@! work "retreat".

    Sorry, not exactly what you want to hear maybe.

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  5. I would say both easier and harder. I have a 15 year old. As they get into elementary school and middle school, they get more and more rational and you can have a conversation and they can take charge of most of their life. High school has definitely been a ratchet up, though. Not it terms of worry but in terms of intensity and time. This surprised me, because I remember being completely independent in high school. But now I am having flashbacks and realizing how much TIME my parents spent going to my sporting and music events. Which we are now doing. To be sure, we don't have to, but these things are SO MUCH FUN we don't want to miss them. So it doesn't really get easier, but it does get mostly way more fun. The teenage angst component is definitely challenging, but I try to remember it's about growing up.

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    1. Honestly, I enjoyed watching my daughter's dance recital much more than I enjoy reading Pat the Bunny for the ten billionth time. It's cute the first time, but I really hate the word "again!"

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  6. I'm only just getting started at the "in medicine" part of the MiM title, but as the parent of 10 and 12 year olds, I can say that I think that life in general is MUCH easier now than it was 8 to 10 years ago. The ability to leave my kids at home on their own for short (increasingly longer) stretches of time, the absolute ignorance of their bathroom habits, being able to sleep in the mornings and the kids can read clocks and know to be quiet and not disturb the household if they are up at an ungodly early hour, the ability to say, "Go ___." and know that it can (and probably will) get done, giving them responsibilities that make our lives easier (they do their own laundry, load & unload the dishwasher, make their own lunches) and being able to communicate via text and phone with them allows me the freedom to be a medical student, allows my husband to travel for work, and let's us live lives that are much less stressful than they were when the kids were smaller.

    Yes, some things are harder - there is more homework, my kids have sports and activities and friends and there are logistical challenges this year with my kids at 2 different schools. Also we're creeping up on puberty and the emotional rollercoaster involved in being a 12 year old girl is bleeding strain into all our lives. My kids miss me and I spend HOURS at school, in the library, in anatomy lab and on my computer. But we are a securely attached family and I make time for them when I can be truly present in their lives and they are going to be just fine.

    In short, Fizzy, YES, it does get better. Though to say it gets easy might be an overstatement. :-)

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  7. Once everyone wipes their own butts, stuff gets way easier. There are lots of other issues, but at least you are coming at them with a little more sleep and probably a shower. You never feel like you're doing it right, and a lot of decisions are made out of guilt.

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    1. Ditto on the butt wiping and water-n-snack getting self-sufficiency! Mine are grown, but they were only 11 months apart so I did all the stages with two at a time, then moved on the next. Physically it gets easier, with middle and teen the emotional energy and safety worries arise....especially when they are out in cars regularly. I got through with a great hubby and lots of prayers.

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  8. Does anyone have any thoughts to share on the difficulties of being a mom, a doctor, AND a daughter of aging parents who can no longer care for themselves? That seems like a really relevant way in which things might get harder, and which disproportionately falls to daughters. My parents are in their 70s and I keep crossing my fingers that they will start to decline many years from now, because as an only child caring them would fall to me, but obviously nobody lives forever. Does anyone have any experience with this?

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    1. Oy. Yes. My mother is in her late 70s with rapidly advancing dementia. My brother does much of the day-to-day management - he's closer but neither of us is really local - and I do what I can from two hours away. I'm a hospice medical director, so I have some professional expertise here, and it's not all that helpful...this is much, much harder than parenting and will not get easier.

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    2. What a huge issue. Another reason I chose to move closer to my parents is that my mom will need an AVR in the next few years and I want to be there when it happens. When we were looking at houses we strongly considered a huge, six bedroom home in a part of town I wasn't crazy about with no yard, but so that our parents could live with us if that was needed. We didn't end up buying that home, and hope I dont' regret it in the future. I do have a sister, but as I am older and more financially secure, I suspect the lion's share of parent-care will fall to me, and the exact same situation holds true of my husband's brother and his parents. Honestly, I don't see how anyone works, takes care of children, and cares for parents without paid help, and maybe multiple levels of it (childcare, parent care, housecleaners, etc etc), at a cost I would rather not think of right now.

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  9. it gets better but not easier IF (that's a big if) you put the time in when they are little (under age 3). One wise parent once told me hone that relationship in the early kid years and they will care about your opinions and respect in the teen years. Oh so true. It's possible to be a mom and something else but you are a mom first once you have kids. You will retire from your drX job but you will outlive your kids, hopefully. There are many pitfalls... grades, self esteem, organized sports, bullies, puberty, boyfriends/girlfriends, co-ed parties hosted with parents in other room and then of course when parents are out of town and Lord save you if your daughter is a knock out model or your son is a handsome stud. Your kids will only obey you if they feel connected to you. They will only feel connected to you if the quality of time you spend with them is significant. And of course stability/stable child care is key. It really is a blessing to be a parent.

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    1. I agree... It has surprised me how much my daughter has listened and taken my advice - leaving me, of course, to wonder if that was really the right advice after all. So much seems about relationship and respect. I have worked since she was 6 weeks old, but have always worked hard to be very present in the time we do have together. Of course, we're not "done" yet so who knows hiw we'll feel we did as parents down the road, but she seems to share our values at this point. I'm reminded somehow of a lady I knew that took vacation from work but continued to drop her child off at daycare at the usual time every morning the entire week. He knew she was on vacation - he was only a toddler but he knew his mother was going to be hanging out without him. I think the attitude or message probably made him feel less valued and I have wondered how that turned out. Not that you shouldn't take a break from kids sometimes, I know I sure do, but kids do need to feel that connection anonymousdocma was talking about.
      Yeah, my daughter's super pretty - I'm happy for her but agh! the worry.

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  10. Fizzy, it DOES get easier. At least it has for me.
    I'm kind of an introvert, and raising a toddler was incredibly draining for me. So much of daily life has to be done with exaggerated voices, movement, social noise, and faked or real emotions when you're dealing with a toddler. It's really demanding if you don't already have that personality. My daughter was boisterous and fearless as a toddler too, which people told me was a sign of her security and therefore good parenting. But then I had the constant worry about her fearlessly running into traffic, talking to the skeeviest strangers and trusting them completely, etc.
    Now that she is 10, I find parenting totally relaxing and enjoyable. The other parts of life stress me out, but spending time with my daughter and making her a priority over other concerns are honestly a joy. Not an ambivalent experience full of doubt and worry and guilt. A real joy.
    I'm sure teenagerhood will being its own set of issues, but for now we're coasting.
    There is hope!

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    1. I'm in the middle of parenting a very extroverted and fearless toddler and can identify with this so much. Thanks for sharing and it is a relief to know

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