Monday, December 3, 2012

It won't always be this easy...

I am reminded lately that, as intense and constant and exhausting as this time is with little ones, it is relatively easy. Their needs are basic and straightforward and usually easily met, and when they are, the hurt slips away.  There will come a time, soon really, when it won't be so easy for me to take away their hurt; a time when their pain can't be dulled with a little nursing or a colorful band-aid, when an ice cream cone won't be the simple salve for their disappointment.

As I've been growing a bit tired lately from those all-night toddler nursing sessions that leave me grouchy and achy come morning, I've been thinking that all too soon it won't be so easy to calm, to nurture, to mother.  As my children grow more independent, as my time returns to me in longer increments, their problems will get bigger, their hurt will get larger, their pain will get harder to console.  On those nights-- nights when my little red head calls me in the middle of the night because some boyfriend has broken up with her or some boss is being unreasonable, I will miss these times when nighttime nursing is all that is needed to soothe her.

As I was thinking of this lately, thinking how little problems will eventually give way to bigger problems and how mothering, in many ways, will get harder rather than easier, I stumbled upon this wonderful New York Times article on the topic: "As long as you hugged them a lot," the author writes, "and made good food, things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You could fix many problems, and distract them from others. Your home could be a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond."

As my children get bigger and bolder and set off on their own course, my mothering knowledge will continue to develop and deepen. I will find myself, in all likelihood, experiencing those same clueless moments I encountered in the first few weeks with a mysterious newborn, or a screaming toddler in the store shopping cart, wondering how in the world I'll get through this.

And I'll miss those times when a hug or a hot chocolate was really all it took.


  1. I've also often reflected on mothering small children and guessed at what it will be like in years to come. I am (as you are) in the physically demanding stage, but I agree that it is pretty easy. As my oldest is now 6 1/2 I have felt and seen the changes in mothering. It is no longer about meeting physical needs as it is now more about teaching correct principles, creating strong character, helping to make good decisions and allowing more independence.

  2. Very well said. My oldest is 8, my younger is 2.5 and I have been reflecting a lot on the differing demands of mothering these two little ones. I wrote a while back on patience and nursing toddlers ( but I think the subject deserves a whole blog post of it's own. This is probably my last baby and I am really trying to relish the comparative ease of the toddler years vs. the school age ones.