'I’ve had four hours of sleep but these are the golden years'
IT'S 5.30am as I type this on my phone. I've got a teething, restless baby asleep on my chest. Maybe I've had four hours of broken sleep. Yet it's dawning on me. These are the golden years. Of course being a Mother to small children is hard work.
There are endless nappy changes, rocking babies to sleep, nights when you barely sleep, days of making snack after snack after snack. Mornings with battles over shoes and drink bottles and getting in the car. It's physically exhausting.
Yet when I think ahead, to life with teens, I can't help but feel like this, right now, is the sweet spot. The golden years.
The golden years, before we've had to deal with social media invading our children's lives. Where puberty is talked about but it's simple when it's all vaguely in the future. Our children are happy to go out together as a family, they're not embarrassed to be seen with us. We eat dinner as a family, those precious meals are interrupted by spilt cups of water and trips to the toilet, rather than sports training or band practice. The kids are mostly happy in each other's company. They fight over broken LEGO and who has the Hulk costume, not over stolen girlfriends, popularity or broken friendships.
My sleepless nights are because my baby is in pain as another tooth emerges. But I'm there with her, comforting her. My biggest worry is trying to remember when she last had baby panadol. One day my sleepless nights will be much harder, I won't always know exactly who my children are with or what they're doing. I'll lie awake, wondering if they're safe, listening for their return home.
There's a simplicity to these young years. It's easier to teach your child to ride a bike than a car, and the stakes are lower with a bike. With little kids, communication about play dates and soccer games goes through the parents, the parents are in charge. Plus they go on play dates, not real dates!
My house is noisy and messy, the floors never seem clean. It feels like someone is always talking to me or whinging to be held. A colleague once complained about his teenage son only communicating in grunts. At the time, with the endless chatter of three talkative boys, that sounded great. Now I realise how lovely it is that they want to talk to me, share things with me. One day they won't want to tell me every little thing about their lives.
The golden years. It's now. It's not easy, but there's a simplicity to these years. Amongst the noise, naps and nappies, there's laughter that comes easily and cuddles given freely. Kisses on foreheads and sweet sweaty little hands in mine. Even the 7-year-old, who isn't free from angst, is happy in my company.
Tonight when we sit down for dinner, I'll remind myself that THIS is the sweet spot. Despite the fussy eating and the getting down from the table, the babies grizzling and the fights over the blue/green/orange plate, the golden years of parenting are now. Life really won't and can't get much better than this.
And now it's 6.20am. My babies lay either side of me, touching me and sleeping lightly. I listen to their gentle snores. The day will start very soon. I'll need lots of coffee. I won't cherish every moment. But I'll tell myself, life is good. My days won't always be so exhausting nor will they be as simple.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.