“Does it get better?”
That’s the question a follower asked me, in a lighthearted panic, after I posted a meme about unruly kids.
It’s just after my often-challenging eldest son’s 8th birthday, and this idea of things becoming easier is on my mind, so all (most) joking aside, I thought I’d try to answer. (But I hate being threatened by more experienced parents who warn me about the tween years or the teen years or the unemployed-and-living-in-my-basement years, so I’m going to try to answer without doing that.)
All that said? No. No, it doesn’t get better… except when it does.
Let me explain.
Are infants better than newborns? Sure! Once kids can smile and show some personality, things definitely become more fun and rewarding. Except they’re also worse than newborns, because suddenly they are teething and having sleep regression and their poop gets more intense.
Are toddlers easier than babies? No, they’re harder, because they’re fearless anarchists with no awareness of physical danger who constantly have you in a state of panic. Except they’re easier too, because toddlers can kind of communicate with ridiculously cute baby talk and hilarious malaprops (“cupcapes” FTW!) and they’re super adorable and can kinda sorta do some stuff and understand some stuff and are a little bit more independent.
Are kindergartners and first-graders better than toddlers? Of course they are! You can have conversations and teach them about superheroes and they don’t need diapers and they can eat real food. But they’re also much worse, because they talk back and understand spelling and can read the channel guide and take up more space in your bed and now you have to pull over at every possible rest stop because nothing is less convenient than potty-trained kids who can’t yet go to the bathroom alone!
Are tweens easier than younger kids? I highly, HIGHLY doubt it. And yet I’m positive that they also definitely are.
Are teens better than tweens? 100%! I can’t wait until my kids have lives and minds of their own, and we can share the same movies and TV shows and books and I can watch them grow into young adults. Hahaha YEAH RIGHT! Please excuse my tears as I imagine my sons hogging the bathroom, slamming doors in my face, and literally never saying anything to me except “Can I borrow the car?”
Everything about this gig is a trade-off. Everything exists in the grey netherworld between yes and no, good and bad, easy and hard. I’m trying to stop wondering and worrying when things will get better and you should too.
Stop waiting for better! There is no magical “better!”
Instead, focus on something like “momentarily acceptable” or “this isn’t so bad, comparatively!” and maybe you’ll actually *feel* better.
No matter how terrible the twos or the fives or the teen years are, there are always going to be good bits, usually every day. But it’s never *not* going to be challenging, no matter how old your kids get.
My son may only be (barely) eight, but that much is already obvious.
This post originally appeared on my Facebook page a year ago and nothing has changed.