The youngest of my six children just turned eight years old. My BABY is EIGHT. It means that I’ve already had a lot of last firsts. No more diapers, breastfeeding, first steps or first day of school drop-offs.
I’ve experienced a lot of “last firsts,” and it’s not easy. Here’s how I’ve survived it:
1. Enjoy EVERY stage:
I remember asking my mom once about her favourite stage of raising us. She said that she loved every unique stage for what each had to offer. She loved having four babies, loved having school age kids and even loved having a houseful of hormonal teenagers.
It was a great answer because it helped shape my perspective. Rather than lamenting the end of a particular stage, embrace the next. Don’t get so stuck on one that you miss out on the others.
2. Don’t complain:
Remember that each stage passes in the blink of an eye. You won’t always have three kids in diapers or a baby up for a feed every two hours. I currently have six kids in ice hockey so my time is mostly spent sitting in a cold arena. I don’t dare complain. I know that in 10 years I will spend my Saturdays wishing I was sitting in an arena cheering on my little hockey players.
3. Know that it’s not actually your last firsts:
When I had my last baby, I told my mom that I was sad that I would never again have that feeling of falling in love with my baby as they come into my arms for the first time. She assured me that I absolutely will experience that feeling again. She said you get the same feeling of overwhelming, heart-bursting love when you are handed your grandchildren.
4. Don’t lose yourself:
Raising children is a full-time job, but eventually, they are raised! Try to hold onto your interests and friends while raising your kids, or find new ones. Carve out time to re-discover yourself. And please remember – you are a person too. You do not to be the sacrificial lamb to be put on the altar of your children’s happiness. Your happiness counts too.
5. Have no regrets:
We’re all doing the best job we can. Don’t dwell on what you could have done differently when they were younger. Remember you did the best you could at the time with what you knew. Then move on to do better in the next stage.
There are a lot of hard things about parenting, but perhaps the hardest part is that they go and grow up on us….