The Golden Years

On the weekend, I took the kids to swimming lessons. There’s a Parent And Tot class in the pool at the same time.

I spent a lot of time watching the parents and their wee ones. You can always spot the parents who are out with their first child. The dad or mom is in the pool with the kid, while the other parent claps enthusiastically from the sidelines, calling out encouragement, rushing over with a towel for cuddles and praise at the end of the lesson.

When I see really young families like this I get nostalgic, although I wouldn’t really want to go back to the world of diapers and naps and mystery screaming and having to cart around a giant stroller all the time.

Those parents aren’t so many years behind me but it feels like a lifetime ago. I’m in some kind of parenthood limbo now where I have passed out of the fog of babyhood, but haven’t yet entered the terror of teenagers. It’s a good phase.

I find myself now constantly wondering what other parents, other mothers, think when they see me out with my kids. Whenever I was out with a baby – or two, or three – we’d get a lot of wistful looks, a lot of older ladies stopping to tell us how lovely the kids were, a lot of “boy, you must be busy!” type comments. We drew attention.

I admit I was rather wrapped up in the world of who-dropped-the-sippy-cup to pay much attention to mothers with older kids that I passed in the mall, unless it was to briefly gaze at them in envy, wishing for the day when everyone would carry their own damn coat (still wishing, by the way).

When I see parents now at the mall with their older teens, maybe shopping together, maybe splitting a cafe mocha at the Second Cup, there’s my wistful feeling coming up. I can only hope to have such a great relationship with my kids in the coming years. I want so much for us to be close as they grow older, to keep thinking of me as a tolerable, benevolent presence in their lives. (Fingers crossed!)

But this age, these in-between years, I think are perhaps the golden age of parenthood, and they go overlooked. Moms like me don’t get the soft looks in elevators, don’t get the yearning look from parents struggling with teens, don’t get the pats on the head from parents who have been there.

I think that’s maybe…wonderful. This is the age when everything clicks. Everything is as easy as it’s going to get. Everyone can put on their own shoes. Everyone can join in on a game of Sorry. Everyone can share a bowl of popcorn during Family Movie Night. Everyone can help carry picnic supplies from the van to the park.

It might not get the most attention. But it makes the best memories.

17 thoughts on “The Golden Years

  1. That was so so lovely. It’s exactly what I have thought myself so many times lately. There are still struggles and our lives are busy busy (my boys start swimming next week) but it’s amazing at the same time. There are so many things you can do and share with your kids at this age when they have the understanding but are not yet mortified to be seen with you. Cheers to you and to all of us in those golden years.

  2. CapnPlanet

    Nice post. Our kids are a little younger than yours, but I can already see this coming – they’re maturing to the point where we can have a relationship that’s truly enriching for all of us, and despite still feeling swamped all the time, it’s important to recognize that there’s a lot of good stuff going on. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. and most importantly, at this age, our kids still think we are COOL and want to hang out with us. not sure how long that will last. my boys are 8 and 11, and every year has just gotten better! hope that continues!

  4. MrsCarlSagan

    Someone once told me that “whatever age they are, is the BEST age”…..each age has its challenges and its highs. However, I too am loving the 6 – 8 -9 thing we’ve got going right now.

  5. I am enjoying these times with my older two. The little one is still a challenge (he is crazy I tell ya) but he is his own source of fun too. I really can’t wait till we reach this stage with him. It will be lovely!

  6. Nick

    Believe me, I am envious of you. We are in the phase right now where our twins will refuse to sit on the toilet for the twentieth time, and then five minutes later will grin at you while pissing on the kitchen floor.

    If you’re still nostalgic for three year olds, I have two that you could take off my hands for me!

  7. Yup, I totally agree. Ed and I spend more time now looking at the kids and thinking, wow–they’re turning into really interesting, neat people. I love seeing how they’re changing now that they are off at school so much of the time and being influenced by other environments.

  8. So lovely and well-said. I don’t get the sappy looks any more, but I get strangers laughing when they hear me having a lunatic conversation with my kids about zombies or Coldplay, and I enjoy that too.

  9. I think you are really right about the years you are enjoying now being the golden years of parenting and family as far as day-to-day life together goes. I have often said that post-diapers to tween years were the most flexible and where we most enjoyed family adventures and memory making. The teen years were not a terror for us. I have quite enjoyed parenting through them as well but it is in them that you begin to be left behind and feelings of nostalgia begin in earnest. Enjoy these golden years. I loved your post.

  10. YES! You are in the lovely years. And I’m slightly past you with two teens and a tween, but you know what? These years are okay too. Different and yes, there are trying moments too, but overall? Pretty nice. 🙂

  11. Nicely written. I probably do look wistfully at you since we’re about to “reset the clock” with a newborn and are on the cusp of getting the older one out of diapers 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I luuuuuurve babies SO MUCH but would occasionally love a child who could look something up on Google herself, instead of asking “Why?” for the 17th time ;D

  12. I had that. Once. And then it slipped away to bad attitude from the 7yo. Somewhere along the line I sort of wanted to go back to the sassy 3yo who could be more easily distracted by some hugs and cuddles….When the older kids are good, I love it. I love the way they can do things for themselves, have conversations that are give and take, have mutual respect. When these same kids get into a phase where they don’t seem to like each other, when they take out their stress on me, when they act rudely toward adults, and especially toward me, I want to cry. I react to the behaviour issues and feel wistful that back in their toddler days I could lie down and cuddle with them and after a nap, start a fresh day. But with the 7yo, this doesn’t work. It’s more work to try and negotiate these troubled waters he seems to be in at the moment. Still, this post is a lovely reminder that I did have that once, and I know I will again.

  13. I feel exactly the same way as you do Lynn. I have been calling these years where my girls still want to snuggle with me, but can pour their own juice too, the honeymoon years of child rearing. Loving it so!

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