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The Sweet Spot of Motherhood

It dawned on me while sitting on a plane this summer that I had reached a new level in parenting: the sweet spot of motherhood. My daughters--10 and 7--were sitting next to me with headphones on, watching movies they had selected and set up, with tray tables covered with snacks and drinks they had ordered. They didn't need me to feed or entertain them, and they were too big to sit on my lap. My only dilemma was deciding whether to pull out a book, start my own movie, or take a nap (I went with the movie). I even ordered a hot drink to enjoy...while it was still hot!

This was the sweet spot of motherhood.

 

a mom with her two older kidsWe all get to this stage, of course, but when you're in the trenches of baby and toddler land, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Intellectually you know that kids grow up and become more independent, but when it actually happens it kind of sneaks up on you.

I came across a quote that dubbed this time as "middle motherhood." While I'm not fully there, I can relate.

middle mom poem

To be fair, I do still have one foot in little land as my son is not yet 4. However, there are no more diapers in my house, and that is huge. Everyone sleeps through the night and is capable of entertaining her/himself for decent stretches at a time (thank you, books and dirt to dig in).

I know some mamas are sad to leave babydom and enter this stage, but I say bring it on. Having my own babies made me realize that I'm not as much as "baby person" as I'd thought. Don't get me wrong, I certainly cherish that sacred time...but it was HARD. There is nothing quite like having a newborn sleeping on your chest, but I just as much enjoy sharing an inside joke with my big kids. 

mom and teenage daughter laughing

When motherhood becomes less intense and hands-on, it feels easier to be able to delight in my kids and their budding personalities. It's less surviving and more thriving.

There so many things to genuinely enjoy now that we've "leveled up." I love picture books, but now the books we read together are engaging for me too. (I have been known to audibly gasp at the twist at the end of books because I'm so into them.) Conversations about school now revolve around social dynamics and not just whether or not someone took a nap. My oldest can now "babysit" for short bursts of time, like when I need to drop off/pick up a sibling or when my husband and I want to go on a run together.

And the most surprising of all is that now my kids have taken an interest in me. They know which songs I love to dance to, what I like to drink on a Saturday morning, and what earrings look the best with my outfit. This investment is finally paying off--I feel seen! Honestly, it's kind of a trip seeing my values reflected back at me so clearly, but it also makes me so proud of the people my children are growing up to be.

mom with her older daughter

Of course, being a middle mom is not all sunshine and roses. Hormones have sneakily started to rear their ugly head, which I know will only intensify through the years. Emotions grow in proportion to bodies and sometimes we don't know why. It's not as easy to identify the sources of upset feelings now as it was when my kids were babies (although hungry and tired are often still the culprits).

But the good definitely outweighs the bad, and I'm trying to appreciate this sweet spot of motherhood because I know it won't last. These darn kids will continue to grow up and as they get bigger, their problems will get bigger too. But for now, I can handle 5th grade friend drama and missed treasure box opportunities, spilled milk, and the wrong color bowl.

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