Thanks to Dr. H (of L&P fame) for alerting us to some inspiration over at One More Soul: This article is brief and worth the read.
Cheatsheet: Emily Sederstrand writes, “While new parenthood is certainly joyful and miraculous, the years in the Tunnel [the first five years of parenthood] can also be frightening, overwhelming and anxiety-producing. I have known many parents with two young children who say with conviction, “We couldn’t possibly have a third!” They often are working under the assumption that adding another baby would exponentially increase their current burdens, and they predict (incorrectly) that those burdens are permanent and unchanging.”
I’m not naïve enough to think that parenting suddenly gets much easier once the kids hit a certain age. I have only secondhand knowledge of challenges yet to be faced (educational decisions and responsibilities, the sturm und drang of adolescence, activities here and there and everywhere, etc.). But from my limited perspective, I’m inclined to agree with Sederstrand: in many ways, the first few years of parenthood are the most overwhelming. I understand why so many people give up and say “Done” amidst the struggle to get two kids housebroken and socialized.
We haven’t hit that 5-year mark of parenting yet, but I’m already able to tell people with younger kids that in some ways, life with 3 kids is easier/more sane than life with only one or two. Never thought I’d say it, but it’s true.
Don’t get me wrong: Yesterday it took me almost an hour to mobilize the troops for a simple outing, if you count the time it took to nurse the baby, pack the snacks and diaper bag, supervise the bathroom visits, grab a few books and trucks to take along, break up the incidental fracases, get everyone buckled in…to say nothing of the emergency roadside stop—in the rain, in the mud—when the back row declared a bathroom emergency…
But it’s not always like that. And we’ve noticed that BoyTwo (not exactly a Compliant Child) will often, remarkably, follow the hard-won lead of BoyOne. A year ago, I would never have thought such a thing possible. We actually have fewer all-out battles of the will with things like church behavior now than a year ago, even with adding a baby. So by the fourth kid or so we won’t have to do much actual parenting, but just stand back and watch them fall neatly in line, right? (ha ha haaaaaaaa).
We need more of what Sederstrand is calling for in this piece: experienced mothers encouraging mothers who are struggling through those first “tunnel” years. I wish I’d had more women telling me this 2 or 3 years ago. Heck, I’d still like to hear it. We need more forthrightness about this whole adventure of motherhood: the darker realities, yes, but the light at the end of that tunnel as well.