The Sweet Spot

Over the weekend I was at dinner with girlfriends chatting out about kids when it hit me literally while I was mid-conversation – I think our family is in the middle of a sweet life spot. And I don’t mean it in a way where everything is perfect and the kids are sweet angels that never misbehave. Why, only a week ago I was in the middle of Target with them and their behavior was so awful I considered leaving them amongst a clearance rack with a chipped seasonal coffee mug and a scented candle with the fragrance “Fart in the Wind.” They were the polar opposite of anything that might be considered a sweet spot and I knew in that moment why some animals eat their young.

But, despite the difficult parenting moments that continue to pepper our lives, the oppressive feeling of rearing small children is starting to fade and feel like a thing of the past. Slightly. I look back at blog posts from a few years ago and feel sorry for that Lynn. Man, she was seriously so in the trenches and drowning under the weight of it all. But now…well, now we can go out to dinner without feeling like we just fought against a small militia group. Dare I say it’s slightly pleasurably to be out as a family? When my husband travels for work it’s not the defcon five situation it used to be when I cried myself to sleep at 8:30pm because I knew I was in for a rough solo night, a rough solo morning, and a long rough solo 12 waking hours. I’m no longer a mombie operating on snatches of sleep and questioning whether I should be operating a motor vehicle because my exhaustion level is at critical mass.

It feels as if we’re currently straddling that delicate line between the big kid world and the small needy kid world where they are angry, helpless blobs. And between those two worlds lies this amazing little place where they’re independent enough that you can read a book while they play (for like five minutes, let’s be honest) but not so independent that they don’t snuggle, cuddle, and love on you in this unabashed way.

We have a few more blissful months to enjoy small kids with small problems before AJR starts kindergarten in the fall. A small period of time free from real drama, social issues, or academic pressures that (can) arise with elementary school BS. Olivia is a borderline psychopath (which is a future blog topic if I live to write it) but she can get herself dressed in the most questionable of outfit combinations that you don’t dare question. The kids can get their own snacks (usually) and a huge bonus is that one kid is wiping their own butt now (sometimes).

Even more surprisingly, this sweet spot has sneakily allowed me to come up for air and think about what I am going to “do” in a very real way. I put do in quotations intentionally because what does that even mean for me? The role of professional mom is still very much one I want and need to hold for our family, but I crave something else to fulfill me. Especially as it feels like my role is on the horizon of being downsized significantly as they’ll eventually spend more time in school than they do with me.  The fact that this is even a desire of mine, let alone a legitimate ongoing conversation is HUGE.  This would be unfathomable even so much as a year ago when I was elbow deep in potty training and fulfilling the needs of two toddlers hell-bent on driving me to the brink of sanity.

Sweet spot aside, yes, we are tired. Perpetually tired with the mental and physical load that comes with parenting and manifests itself into wrinkles, under eye bags, and gray hairs. But as well-meaning strangers promised me in grocery stores amidst epic toddler tantrums and a screeching baby, it did get easier. And this fact literally just dawned on me the other day. Not only is it easier, which is amazing in its own right, but the kids are still in this adorable little kid phase that makes everything slightly precious melt your heart. Olivia still has a delicious baby belly and cheeks for days that don’t mind being plied with kisses after kisses. You want to remember all of the various words she mispronounces incorrectly – like calling her brother Anthony “Annie”. She does silly things in a cutesy toddler way that makes us laugh on a daily basis. AJR has crept more and more into little boy territory, but with that has come this way of being so earnestly and genuinely fascinated by things that no factoid is too mundane for him. It’s a joy to watch him learn and grow and still look at us with those big eyes to see if we’re pleased with him, just as when he was learning how to walk.

There’s an air of innocence, ease, and delight that envelopes this stage that we’re in. Although I’m sure the bubble on our sweet spot is going to pop as soon as I hit publish, but I’m glad that even if for a brief few days, I was able to recognize that we’re in the midst of it and do my best to appreciate and enjoy it.

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