The other day I found myself in a rare moment out and about with only one of my kids. I was enjoying an afternoon of shopping without chasing three boys in three different directions. As I returned the shopping cart, I scooped up my sweet two-year-old and pulled him in close. I just stood there in the parking lot breathing him in. He giggled and wrapped his little hands around my neck as I pressed my nose to his cheek. He had my complete and undivided attention in that moment and it was so good for both of us.
I started reminiscing about life when I just had one child. For four and a half years it was just my oldest son soaking up my affection. I was so purposeful in my time with him. He was the center of my attention and we shared countless moments like the one above. I wasn’t rushing around trying to manage three kids and keep everyone safe and happy. Also, I was in my mid-twenties. To state the obvious, I was more energetic. Every detail was planned (and over-planned) to perfection. I held myself to the highest parenting standards. I wanted to be supermom and honestly thought I could do it all.
I worried about everything. If my first-born had a fever, I panicked and feared for the worst. He had mastered all the required skills before he went to kindergarten. I drilled him on letters and number sense. If he struggled with something, I was right there to help him figure it out.
Flash forward to my mid-thirties, and I am a very different mom. I still feel like that twenty-something mom occasionally, but also often laugh at her unrealistic expectations. It amuses me to think of how “busy” I thought I was then too.
With three kids pulling me in three different directions, I actually know what busy means. I’m still dealing with toddler meltdowns like I was nearly a decade ago, but I’m also navigating upper elementary drama and having a child in kindergarten again. Thinking of managing all that during my early mom years seems like it would have been nearly impossible.
I feel like I was a good mom back then, and I feel the same about the mom I am today. I’m just different. When I look at my kids today, I see the years that have gone by all too fast. I long to press pause and just keep them little for a while longer. I’m more appreciative of the little moments. I remind myself to stop amidst the chaos and just soak it up.
I’ve given up my illusions of being a perfect parent. Mistakes are made daily, but I don’t fret over them as much. We’ve had our growing pains, like when we went from one child to two and then from two to three, but I’ve learned to adjust and grow with the changes. I’ve reached a point where I am confident in the parent I am.
I’m not the young, enthusiastic mom I once was. But in some ways I’m more. My years of experience are easily seen in the bags under my eyes and in my weary smile. These physical reminders tell a story of a woman who grew from a young, inexperienced mother into something else entirely. I’m a woman with a beautiful story of life, love, and motherhood. My story is still being written and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter unfolds.
Parenting doesn’t really ever get easier, you just get more experienced. With every challenge and tough kid moment you face, you grow and change as a parent. I’m thankful for each and every bump along the road that brought me to this place in my mom journey. I’m not perfect, not even close. What I do know is that I am the mom I am today in spite of my mistakes and poor decisions, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.