When you are having babies people are very concerned about timing. Do you want to have them all in diapers at once or one at a time? Should siblings be old enough to help with the baby or better to just pack the car seats in in the back of the car like cordwood? Will they play together better if they are 2 years apart or 4 years apart? So many questions. So many debates.
But you know what no one ever considers?
Do you know what the big oversight in child spacing consideration is?
I just realized I’ll have a middle school girl in my house for eight straight years.
Eight. Straight. Years. Of. Middle. School.
Please send Bourbon and dark chocolate, we are going to need a lot of it.
Now, hold on before you feel the need to tell me how wonderful my eldest is. I know she’s a great kid, she has spent the past few years turning into a lovely, even keeled, responsible child. But now she is a middle schooler. And she is just the stereotypical, grunting, lack of eye contact, hormonal, moody kid that you expect a middle schooler to be and, because we’ve been doing our parenting job tolerably well, she’s mostly just like that at home.
Ahhhh! The sweet, sweet rewards of parenting!
We have “discussions” about why wearing ear buds while talking to people is rude. There are tears and pouting that pass like summer storms and are replaced with a girl that exudes rainbows and sunshine only to have her fall to pieces later in the day/hour/minute. We have a continual one sided discussion about how words are an important part of conversation right before she chats at me non-stop for an hour. I know I can look at this as an excellent opportunity to practice my own patience and understanding. I can use these times to work on my compassion, even on a busy day, and to practice forgiveness, even at the drop of a hat. This is a personal growth opportunity presented to me on a silver platter.
And I try. I really do. But see, here is the thing.
It’s not that fun.
It’s really hard.
And I fear for the future.
It’s all well and good to say practicing patience, compassion, understanding and forgiveness is good for you. But when the every day reality of life gives you opportunities for self improvement, whether you want them or not, it feels a lot more brutal and a lot less fortuitous than it sounds. These great growth opportunities where one can practice all these skills are presented to you every single day. And not just once a day either. Opportunities abound on days that you are sick and days you are tired and days where you already did a good job of being kind and understanding to the kid that screamed at you all morning and you really don’t have it in you to try it again. It was one of those days that I accidentally did the math in my head and realized that I will have a middle school girl living in my house for the next seven years, eight years total. I’m not actually sure I can afford to consume that much dark chocolate and bourbon.
So, if you are in the baby having years consider this a warning! Think ahead, plan for middle school. And when your baby has a meltdown in the grocery line and the mother of a young lady gives you a sympathetic, “Solidarity mama, you can do it!” look, check her cart. If it’s got a stash of dark chocolate and bourbon, give her that look right back, she’s gonna need it too!