I just read a blog post that several friends have shared on Facebook about one mom's realization that she is in one of life's "sweet spots". An age where her kids are old enough to do many things independently but they are still young enough to share their lives and love with her. It was a very sweet post and many people commented about how well they could relate or how wonderful it was that she was able to realize it while it was happening.
I did not have that reaction. My life does not contain those "sweet spots" and it likely never will. Instead, I have been living with the three-year-long terrible twos that show no sign of slowing down. Don't get me wrong, I can understand this perspective to a degree. My older, typical son is almost 9. Definitely sweet spot age. He wants some independence but not too much. He is starting to become his own person but he still wants to share it all with me. He also talks non-stop, but that's another story.
My problem with the sweet spot is that it isn't reality for everyone. I hear all the time about how we "need to slow down and appreciate our kids and the moment that we're in because it all goes by so fast". Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all of this. But sometimes - many times - the moment that we're in sucks. We can look back on it and remember the good things. Somehow the stress or struggles seem to fade but the good memories remain. But when you are in the midst of the insanity, it's difficult to stop and appreciate it. And I'm sick of being made to feel guilty when I can't do that.
I was talking to a friend last night who also happens to have three (!) kids with special needs. We talked about many things that we have in common, many emotions and situations that we have experienced that parents of typical children will never understand. One thing that we discussed that struck me was the emotional toll that CONSTANTLY worrying about your child and his safety will take on you. Try to remember the feeling of following your 1 year old around on the playground when she is just learning to navigate it. You follow right behind her to make sure she doesn't get hurt or fall. Now try to imagine carrying that feeling with you ALL. THE. TIME. It's not just that back of the mind, "oh, I hope she stays safe" feeling. If that isn't something you can relate to, it's pretty much feeling like you are under the "fight or flight" scenario at all times. You can't relax because you have to be constantly on guard to make sure your child is safe and isn't damaging anything or anyone. My friend's son is 15 now and she still feels that way. It is utterly exhausting. I can't emphasize that enough.
We don't get to sit by the pool drinking coffee and watch our kids play with their friends. At almost five, I still have to follow right behind my son to be sure he doesn't dart away and get hurt. Because he will without a second thought. He has no safety awareness at all. It may be something that will come with time and teaching or it may not. He likely will never hit that sweet spot age.
So there it is. My not-so-sweet spot.
At this point, I think if you can enjoy the moment, great. Go for it. And if you can't, give yourself a break. You will look back on it and the tough parts will fade and the good memories will remain.
And if you have read that post, loved it or shared, that's great too! I don't mean to discount that mom's - or anyone else's - feelings about their lives and their children. I just wanted to share mine too.
And here's a cute picture of Aaron to make up for some of my not-so-sweet feelings. He's pretty cute, so that always helps. :-)