stages

I noticed this week that I seem to have arrived at a new parenting stage, one where the emotional work of parenting is often harder than the physical.  My boys can dress themselves (most of the time), use the bathroom without assistance (most of the time), get themselves a glass of water.  D can entertain himself for hours between reading and playing with his DS.  N isn't quite so self-maintaining, but on a weekend morning, the boys generally can play together for a good hour before the arguing gets loud enough that we can't pretend not to notice any more.

But the emotional work is challenging.  N gave me huge hugs and kisses before I went away on a 36 hour trip for work, but then ignored me on my return.  D says "sorry" for hurting his brother without thinking or meaning it, but bursts into tears when we press him.  Both of them are constantly complaining about headaches or stomachaches, but it doesn't seem to stop them from running around like lunatics.

9 Responses to “stages”

  1. Laura/Geekymom Says:

    I find the emotional work of parenting older kids much harder and more time consuming than the physical work of parenting infants and toddlers. Starting around 2nd or 3rd grade, we had to deal with friend issues, school issues, learning to be kind issues. And now we’ve hit teenagehood. Sigh. But . . . I do find it rewarding if challenging. There have been times when I’ve felt like we handled situations well, when things have worked out well.

  2. carosgram Says:

    Your son really missed you and then punished you for going away by not speaking to you. It is a common response and not just by children. Some people pick a fight just before you leave, also a response to knowing they will miss you. Ain’t life strange?

  3. kathy a. Says:

    it is challenging! it was also really interesting to see how the push and pull of my kids growing more independent worked out at different ages and stages. the path to adulthood is inexorable overall, but not necessarily smooth — i came to think of it as a constant push forward [“i can do it myself”] accompanied by and competing with the pull back to the safe and familiar.

  4. Jody Says:

    I was JUST thinking this myself, over the weekend. At least when they were babies and toddlers, all that hard physical labor WORKED. I feel like I am flailing around so much on the big-kid issues.
    (Maybe it only ever looks like it worked in retrospect, but still: feed, diaper, sleep seems infinitely easier than school work and friendships and sibling bickering.)

  5. dave.s. Says:

    Our 12-year old swore at us over the weekend. The issue was that some music practice had to happen before video screens. Meanwhile, the never-ending struggle for dominance among second-grade girls goes on, with the dizzying changes in position in the hierarchy. Diapers were, in retrospect, relatively easy.

  6. Jackie Says:

    We are there too. Friend issues, missing their law-student father issues, school work, etc. Sigh.

  7. jen Says:

    Not long ago my youngest got sick overnight and threw up in her bed. Totally disgusting, right? But at the time I remember being almost joyful at the event, thinking: I can change sheets! I know how to do this! I was so relieved to know I was being a good parent at the time. So much of the rest of the time I am questioning myself and my decisions. Exhausting in its own way.

  8. Madeleine Says:

    jen, I hear you. My 8 y.o. got sick a couple of weeks ago, and while it was worrying, hey, I can administer fever-reducers and push fluids and sit on the couch just fine! But there was no puke involved. I think that might dent me a little bit.

  9. Professing Mama Says:

    I’m with you on all of this. Ever since Pistola started school, I have felt this way. Having Chico really points up the difference; while parenting him can be physically demanding, those demands pale in comparison to the emotional challenges we’v been going through with Pistola for the past year or so. She’s a great kid, but sometimes I wonder what the hell happened to the daughter I used to have.
    But I know what happened to her. She went from being an only to being a big sister and from going to preschool for five hours a week to going to kindergarten for just under 35 hours a week.

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