New parents, I am calling you from the future to deliver great news: PARENTING GETS EASIER. IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS FUN.
I’ve loved every age of my kids (although I could have skipped the first six months, tbh) — chubby one-year-olds with “doughy starfish hands,” Beatles-loving two-year-olds, three- and four-year-olds with magical thinking, five-year-olds wearing cowboy boots, opinionated seven-year-olds…
But, as they get older, parenting, in my experience, keeps leveling up. Of course, all kids can be grouchy and whiny, and siblings can battle, and everyone has their problems, but it’s also a much easier pleasure. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.
“People always post these sappy sad things about their babies growing, as if we should be depressed as our children grow,” commented a reader named Dana. “That is true in some ways, but in many it is not! My girls are now seven and four, and it is WONDERFUL. The excitement of Halloween. New seasonal jammies. The giggles in bed. They eat breakfast and watch TV on the weekends while my husband and I lounge in bed with coffee. They sit for family movie nights. We travel. They have playdates with their friends and occupy themselves. It is SO MUCH FUN and keeps getting sweeter.”
Last night, the boys and I were having dinner at a restaurant. Two mothers next to us had four younger children at the table — the kids were wriggly, they spilled drinks, a few ended up under the table. I could tell the moms wanted to chat but couldn’t sneak in much time. The kids were SO cute but also exhausting. Meanwhile, my older guys were casually eating their burgers and debating which movie we should watch later (spoiler: Big). The restaurant scene reminded me how much WORK those early years are, how bone-tired you can feel. And I’m not saying parenting is all roses now… but it’s many more roses!
At 9 and 12, our boys feel like hilarious friends. They help us cook and turn on “smooth jazz” on Spotify. They teach us cool TikTok dances. We read next to each other in bed. They do impersonations of everyone in our family. They know all the words to Eternal Flame!
The other day, Anton was cutting up onions for chili, and, while struggling through the tears, told me: “I’m a navy seal at chopping onions.”
Me: “Toby, you’re a beautiful person.”
Toby, earnestly: “Yeah. I should be on The Bachelor.”
Me, at an Airbnb: “Check out this view!”
Anton: “Wow, that’s low-key sick.”
Thinking it over, I want to remember to tell the boys how much I enjoy them at every age. “It bums me out when parents say things like, ‘Stop growing up! Why can’t you be my baby forever?,’” commented a reader named Marisa. [Ed. note: Busted.] “I remember hating stuff like that as a kid. I love the mindset shift to shower my kids with, ‘I love watching you grow; I love you more every day; the bigger you get the more fun we have together.’” xoxoxo
Thoughts? How old are the kids in your life? What has your experience been with different ages?