My kids still do all of these things (OK, maybe not the older kids... Maybe), but my feelings -- therefore, my reactions -- are very different. But, how did I get here? And, is it a good thing?
Enter children #2 and #3, or as I lovingly refer to them: The Too-Touchy-Titus Twins (no, they're not actually twins). These two gave us a run for our money, folks. They loved to touch everything, test things out, see how far they could throw objects, see how loudly they could make their voices echo. The fed off of one another. I used to tell people that #2 was digging my grave and #3 was pushing me into it. Even with these two, I could still use the fear of embarrassment and The Stink-Eye to keep them in check. "Hey, buddy, if you keep banging the hymnal on the pew, the usher is going to escort you to the back of church and keep you there until the end of Mass. Do you want to sit quietly with us, or do you want to sit in the back with the usher?". That ALWAYS worked with 2 and 3. And, so I would sit back in the pew with a smug look on my face and still accept the compliments on my parenting skills after Mass. After all, I deserved them, didn't I?
With #5 and #6, we've seemed to hit our stride. Yes, we know you little guys are going to be absolute stinkers in Mass for a few years. Yes, we know you are going to test all the limits and make us crazy. But, we also know that we've done this before and we will survive (cue Gloria Gaynor music!). So, I sit with a smile that is not-so-smug these days.
"BUT, WHY?" you moms with 2 and 3 little ones ask, "WHY? HOW?".
|No, not this kind of growing pains!|
|Lois, how I adore your mad parenting skillz!|
But, here's the real shocker: we went through our own growing pains as parents and as people, INDEPENDENT of our kids' phases.
Yeah. I KNOW! It took me by surprise, too!
There are certain seasons of our lives when we (as parents, spouses, and adult humans!) need to flex our developmental muscles in order to grow and change. Hopefully, we are able to discern things like mid-life crises from the true yearning to become better people * here's a clue: becoming a better person rarely involves sports-cars and a change in spouse!
And, much like our kids' growing pains, the process of going through our "adult-onset" growing pains is often, well... painful.
So, at the very least, I can offer this to all you mothers of 2, 3, and 4 kids: Wipe the sweat from your brows, take a deep breath, and smile a tiny smile. Enjoy all the crazy behavior during Mass, or whenever, and know that you AND your kids are experiencing some growing pains and it will bring all of you to a better place. And that grumpy old biddy who is glowering at you from the next pew? Smile at her, too. She should thank her lucky stars that she's still here and able to experience some growing pains of her own!