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Is This the Sweet Spot of Parenting?

A few weeks ago at my daughter's preschool holiday concert, I watched an adorable toddler run around in the aisle. He had voluptuous cheeks, and my husband and I laughed as he stumbled around, falling on his diaper-cushioned butt. His parents took turns reining him in when he wandered too far away.

A few rows in front of us, a newborn nestled into his mom's shoulder. I was amazed by his tinyness, his newness.

But I don't miss it.

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For the first few years of my son's life, I heard the standard chide given by elderly women to new mothers everywhere: "Enjoy every moment of it. It goes by so fast."

It didn't feel like it was going by quickly at all. Time scraped by. I was sleepless, depressed, withered.

And just as it was starting to get a little easier, we had our daughter and were right back into the trenches.

But now, six years later? Time is picking up speed. Because parenting, with a 4-year-old and an almost 7-year-old, is starting to get really awesome.

One of the weirdest, most painful, most beautiful part of parenting is watching my kids shed their skin, over and over and over again.

I don't miss the babies they were because I'm so enjoying the kids they're becoming.

One of the weirdest, most painful, most beautiful part of parenting is watching my kids shed their skin, over and over and over again. I love watching them constantly morph into new people, with new bodies and new interests. I've watched my son go from chicken-skinned newborn to swaybacked, tomato-cheeked, giant-headed toddler, and then to little boy, and now not-so-little boy. He's skinny and proportioned, the bones of his face surfacing, his body so lean that the muscles and bones of his torso show through his skin, the top of his head sweeping my bicep. I've watched my daughter evolve from a sweet, sleepy baby into a sweet, active preschooler.

As much as I know I will miss them in the future, when they're off putting together lives of their own and becoming some future version of them I can't even try to predict, I love this era we're floating into. It's the beginning of the sweet spot of parenting—that cushy time from around kindergarten until the onset of tweendom.

My son now gets up on his own in the morning. Het gets himself dressed and hangs out for a while instead of making a beeline to shake me from sleep. The other day, when he asked if he and his little sister could go outside, saying, "Mom, I promise I'll watch her," we said yes. My daughter is finally out of diapers. They can go on walks with us and go to the movies. They can have sleepovers at my parents' house. We can play board games together—though they frequently end in tears. And the best thing yet? I often can go to the bathroom alone.

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I've heard about this fabled sweet spot, the golden phase where our kids no longer need our constant supervision, when they can wipe their own bottoms but aren't yet overtaken by the angst of puberty. And now we're easing into it, seeing the first hints of what life will be like before it changes again and again.

So just as our kids shed themselves, morphing over and over again, as parents we do, too. Ever so slowly, I'm trading in the sleep-deprived, hyper-vigilant version of my mother-self for someone slightly more relaxed, better rested, with stray moments to catch my breath.

And it's so, so sweet.

Photograph by: Pixabay

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