When Maia was born, I desperately wanted to have more children. Hadn’t circumstances been what they were at the time, I am sure I would have had another two (or four) babies soon after. Life, however, had other plans.
The babies I longed for eventually arrived but the six years between Maia’s birth and that of Robin mean that I now have an almost-teen, a six-year-old and a three-year old. They are all at such different ages that there are days when it feels like I have six children and not only three.
I used to think that children got easier as they grew. They would no longer need me to do their bed, get them dressed, wipe their bum, make sure they ate their dinner and keep a constant eye on them. What did I know? My eldest is pretty self-sufficient at this point but parenting her is more demanding and draining than parenting the other two put together. Is it her fault? Not really. She’s going through the motions we all went through at that age; asserting her independence while clinging on to the most comfortable parts of childhood, thinking her parents are the most annoying and unreasonable and preferring the company of her friends over ours. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The extraordinary side of parenting a teen today is the constant interference of the outside world. Life might have been harder in a lot of ways before the internet became mainstream, but parenting was much MUCH easier. The emotional demands on the parent of a teenage girl are also extraordinary in themselves. Or maybe that is just the case with me and my eldest. I have met women who love or have loved parenting their teenage daughters. I cannot honestly say that I am loving it, although seeing my child grow into the woman she will one day be is a privilege I don’t take for granted. There are moments when I catch a glimpse of the puffy-cheeked toddler who once shared my bed but the next moment I see a young woman I can hardly recognise.
All this to say that parenting does not get easier. It becomes physically less demanding but it is infinitely tougher emotionally. Carry your babies, cuddle your toddlers (like I’m doing as I write this) and hug your little ones because they’ll be too tall for that before you know it.