To hope that babyhood isn't the only good part of parenting?

(63 Posts)
Zara1984 Fri 03-Jan-14 20:32:34

Stayed at the family home of some friends the past few days, with 14 month old DS in tow. Our friend's mother enjoyed having DS there, liked asking me all about him and the things he does etc.

Anyway it seems this lady is having a hard time dealing with the fact that her son (our friend) lives overseas and is married to a woman from that country (ie he's settled there). But she kept going on at me about how it's only "this time" (ie when children are little) that is the best or enjoyable part of parenthood, and it gets much harder and not enjoyable. She said I might be lucky and have reason to be happy/enjoy motherhood when DS is grown up, but probably I would find that it was only most enjoyable when they were little babies.

AIBU to hope that she is wrong?! I'm looking forward to all parts of parenthood, including when DS is a grown up! I can't wait to see what kind of man he becomes and what he does with his life! I am steeling myself for the idea he could live far away from us as a grown up - it's what DH and have done, so he'll probably be the same. So I'm not deluding myself that he will definitely live in the same place as us and come round for a roast dinner ever Sunday etc.

But I just found this woman's viewpoint to be so utterly depressing. Please tell me she is wrong. I love DS to bits and every day it seems to get better and more fun.

Topaz25 Sat 04-Jan-14 18:57:26

I think you might have misunderstood me, I meant that the OP will probably have a good relationship with her DS when he is an adult because she doesn't have set expectations like he will always come around for Sunday dinner, she accepts he might move out of the area. Her friend's mother sounds like she might be having trouble with her son moving away because she expected him to stay closer.

I wasn't saying don't expect your children to achieve anything! Of course it's nice to expect that your DC will aim high and do well in whatever path they choose in life, I just find that if people have set expectations of what career their child will follow or what area they will live in for example, it can cause tension when the child is an adult and wants something different.

NearTheWindmill Sat 04-Jan-14 17:52:05

hmm Topaz. I think if the parent doesn't have high expecatations, the child can't have them. I find concept of not having expectations for one's children very alarming indeed.

Topaz25 Sat 04-Jan-14 16:30:56

I don't have DC yet but I have always thought the mark of a successful parent is raising their child to be an independent adult who can make their own decisions. It sounds like you will probably enjoy parenting your son when he is an adult because you are prepared for the possibility that he might move away and do his own thing and you don't have set expectations. Personally, I think my relationship with my mother has changed in a positive way now I am an adult and not living at home because we can relate to each other more as friends and equals rather than her having to set the rules and we can enjoy spending time together out of choice rather than necessity.

Dawndonnaagain Sat 04-Jan-14 11:58:46

29 year old, who once a week comes and cooks, just because.
19 year old at uni, getting firsts, doing brilliantly despite disability and bullying at uni.
17 year old twins. Both doing extremely well and happy.
I enjoy them all, it's fun doing stuff with them, talking to them. It's fabulous when people say what beautiful manners my son has, they're always shocked which has a lot to do with his vividly dyed hair and piercings.
I am proud every time my dd posts on here.
I enjoy listening to dd2 playing guitar and singing.
Ds1's band, I love going to their gigs.
It's different things, but still very enjoyable.

DumSpiroSperHoHoHo Sat 04-Jan-14 11:46:46

My DD is 9 - each age brings it's own challenges but overall I think it gets better and better and we are closer now than we've ever been.

Who knows what the future holds but I know plenty of teenagers and young adults with great relationships with their parents so hopefully DD and I will be the same.

WooWooOwl Sat 04-Jan-14 11:34:38

I can understand the feelings this lady is having, but the baby years are lovely in the same way that all the other bits are lovely.

My youngest has just started secondary, and I've really enjoyed the last few years of motherhood and I feel like I have lots to look forward to as well throughout the teenage years.

I love the conversations I have with my dc now. They have their own thoughts and ideas and they can help plan the things we do together like holidays and days out or even just what we do on lazy weekends. It's so nice seeing them build their own friendships and learning the things they do at school. It's great to be able to share things with them that would have been too much effort when they were small, like theatre that isn't aimed at children and sightseeing when on holiday.

I know it will be hard when they are fully independent adults who may not live nearby, but at the same time I'm looking forward to knowing that they have turned out ok in the end - if they do of course!

MammaTJ Sat 04-Jan-14 11:24:41

Enjoyed most of parenting DD1 and now she is 18 and due to get married this year, I am enjoying spending time with the lovely young woman she has become!

I'm sure I will feel the same about younger DD and DS!

NearTheWindmill Sat 04-Jan-14 11:05:24

Apols for typos - on phone.

NearTheWindmill Sat 04-Jan-14 11:02:06

I think too, as someone else said it mustt be hard if all of your children decide to live abroad and to make a conscious decision to break a long way a way from theor roots. I couldn't and wopuldn't stop them but it would make me very sad, especially if I were getting older and finding long haul flights more difficult or if I didn't have the money to fly aroound the globe. I can quite see how that would make one sad and to view the past through rose tinted glasses and to sound, unwittingly a bit bitter. I think in those circumstances one would begin to inhabit a parallel universe focusing on thw witnessed past rather than the tangential present and near past.

Our DS leaves today for 5 months for another continent and what he does in the next five months I shall know of second hand at best and I wonder how that will change and colour my feelings. At the moment I am carrying on with a jolly smile and am about to make him a big fry-up but inside I feel as though a little bit of being his mum is about to die so perhaps you might be being a bit hard on this lady.

If this is how I feel about the departure of one for a few months, oi can imagine a little of her inner sadness.

Thatisall Sat 04-Jan-14 10:52:29

OP my dd is 11. Parenthood is difficult whatever their age but it has been a wonderful and like previous posters have said, every year has been better than the last.
So she isn't cute and small anymore and she doesn't believe in Santa and the tooth fairy now, that's sad. But she is funny and her personality has well and truly shown itself and that's a joy.
I'm sure she is projecting her own feelings into you. Try not to let it worry you

member Sat 04-Jan-14 01:42:47

My personal experience is that it the baby/ toddler years are the most physically demanding purely because they are so reliant on you.

I enjoyed the primary school age the best; you get a bit of space from each other; they gain some independence but they still want approval.

We are entering the teenage years & I am finding that mentally hard. The up & down emotions/ their need for privacy & worrying that the secrecy/uncommunicative ness is masking a going-off-the rails. Picking which battles are worth fighting etc. I find it taxing striking a balance all the time & frustrating that dd no longer tries her best blah blah.

I am hoping that those who say things improve again at about 16 are right! And of course, through time, my memories of this stage will fade so the recall won't be accurate!

Preferthedogtothekids Sat 04-Jan-14 01:35:53

Mine are Dd15 and Ds17. They're fabulous folk and we have a great time together :-) We all get lots of sleep, enjoy spending time together and they generally pick up after themselves.

The baby years were grim in comparison, the kids were cute but I was over-anxious and obsessive about their health, safety and behaviour. I much prefer the teenage years.

MatildaWhispers Sat 04-Jan-14 00:47:55

I have had an older woman say a similar thing to me, and I wondered whether maybe it was just that she was slightly mourning the fact that she is herself now older - i.e. it is not just that her baby has grown.

Personally I have found babyhood pretty demanding, especially the babyhood of my second and third children - but that has been mainly due to balancing the needs to the baby with that of the older child(ren). I loved it when my second child was 3-4 years, mainly because my eldest was at school and I wasn't yet pregnant with my third and I loved being able to focus fully on my middle child.

I am now starting to really enjoy my youngest (2 years) as she is starting to chat away to me and her older siblings are both at school so again I get the chance to focus just on her. But I also enjoy spending time with my elder children as well.

bragmatic Sat 04-Jan-14 00:36:19

It gets better, but I can see why, as a grandparent, she's upset about missing so much of babyhood. You can't blow raspberries on a 10 year old's tummy.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Sat 04-Jan-14 00:33:36

Also, this may not have been what she meant personally, but for me at least I find being the parent of a single baby to be a totally different experience than being the parent of an older child or children. Once they start having opinions and really developing their personalities everything goes out of the window and you're screwed if you had a plan for the way you wanted things to go or even the kind of parent you want to be. With babies, pretty much, they want feeding, sleep and to be with you and they don't care what schedule you do it on or whether you use a sling, buggy or rolls Royce, breast or bottle etc, some are more picky than others but, generally, you have that control.

Once they get to about 3 or for some people the clash comes at about the toddler stage, but it happens to everyone (except certain lucky, rare, irritatingly smug parents, you will come across them if you haven't already) they start reacting to things in a totally different way to how you want or expect most of the time rather than just a little bit of the time, and you quickly have to adapt, which can be very hard especially if you had a very predefined idea of how things would play out. Don't be fooled by thinking it's easier if you accept from very early on that your child will have their own personality, even if you are excited and eager to see their personality coming out, it's still quite a shock when it does, in my experience the hardest part being their particular personality traits they get from YOU!

In addition to this they have more and more outside influences as they get older which are harder for you to control. And no matter how you feel about your baby now, the need for space from them does increase mainly because babies sleep a lot, and you can do a lot of fairly "normal" things with them like watch adults TV, visit non child friendly places (with them in a buggy or distracted) that you can't do with a toddler or primary aged child. And then with the teenage graduation towards more adult interests and their own wanting space you also get the attitude and (negative for some!) the increased need for their own space.

I think it definitely gets harder. But that's not to say it's all doom and gloom, I enjoy the challenge even though it has reduced me to tears on occasion - this evening being one (attempting to wash an utterly terrified 5yo's hair) - sounds totally wanky but I think it makes me a better person in general. And I'm definitely enjoying other parts of him growing up - I tend to think if you want something that's cute and will love you unconditionally and you can do whatever you want with and won't express any troublesome opinions then you want a dog, not a child!

lade Sat 04-Jan-14 00:33:06

I have to say that I found the baby years the worst.

Whilst I enjoyed them at the time (and thought I would really miss them when they had gone) but since then, I haven't missed them at all. The thought of going back to those years makes me feel nothing but horror, just because they were the hardest.

I have two DDs now, aged 10 and 7, and I have to say, I've enjoyed all the years. In many ways it becomes more enjoyable as they become more independent, but it's all good.

ViviPru Sat 04-Jan-14 00:02:47

NearTheWindmill you sound like a great Mum to have

NoComet Fri 03-Jan-14 23:59:20

DDs are 12&15

Babies are hard work (DD1 was an exhausting 2-3year old because she messed with or climbed everything. You couldn't finish an adult conversation without having to chase after her. Also I was PG with DD2)

Apart from that parenthood is fine and parenthood now DD2 is happy to spend the odd hour or two at home on her own is bliss. We live in the middle of nowhere and no longer having to stress about complex crossing over school runs and drama rehearsals etc. makes life so much easier.

ashtrayheart Fri 03-Jan-14 23:47:18

I have difficult teens and a 3 and 4 yo. I have enjoyed having little ones again and want them to stay little but they are all different!

BertieBowtiesAreCool Fri 03-Jan-14 23:40:34

See, I liked 0-3 months, 3-18 hard, 18-36 wonderful, 3-4 years hell (suspect would be far easier if there had been a sibling to play with, although of course this doesn't work so well with the first), 5 years is improving, still difficult, but I'm finding it easier to enjoy spending time with DS and I can only see this getting better as he gets older and his interests are less child centred and he's more able to articulate and also relate back to others rather than being so completely self centred as all small children are.

I think it depends on your personality. Some people as said above love the whole dependency thing with babies and some people get really hung up on their children being their whole identity and struggle with them being independent adults. Some prefer them being cute etc. I think it's pretty unusual to only have liked one particular part, though. Most people I have spoken to who found things hard at some point came through that stage and found the good again even if they struggled to see it at the time.

WestieMamma Fri 03-Jan-14 23:29:30

I found the part where mine was old enough to move out rather enjoyable. Unfortunately she came back a few months later and appears to have developed the skills of a limpet.

1944girl Fri 03-Jan-14 23:25:31

1ME the baby years were the best.

I am not going to say anymore except that I am now a grandmother.

DoTheStrand Fri 03-Jan-14 22:57:53

I have 2 DSs aged 2 and 4.5. At each stage I think the good bits can't be bettered, but then at the next stage they are. There are always difficult bits of course, eg when DS1 was 3-4 we had some terrible behaviour (all his friends - girls and boys - were pretty awful at that stage too but apparently boys have a testosterone spurt at that age which can make them a bit of a nightmare). But he was so bright and funny and interesting the rest of the time that it made it all worth it (he's a lot better now he's at school).

I've also got two DSSs at university who I've known since they were 7 and 9, and I've always really liked having them around. Even the teenage years were generally ok - and the look of gratitude on a 17 year old's face when they emerge from their pit at lunchtime and you hand them a cup of tea and a fried egg sandwich makes up for a lot of teenage grumpiness. (Your house will permanently smell of Lynx at that stage though).

rabbitlady Fri 03-Jan-14 22:49:58

my daughter is delightful and is completely grown up at 31, with a husband and baby of her own.
its wonderful to be a mummy, at all the stages, and its amazing to be a grandma, too.

ToodlesMcToodles Fri 03-Jan-14 22:35:50

I feel a bit sorry for the lady tbh. Doesn't mean I agree with what she said though.

Different kids, different parents will remember different ages with fondness depending on their preference or circumstances at the time.

Growing your bond and relationship with your child is the important thing and enjoying what they are like at all ages.

I am lucky with both a teen and a pre schooler so I get actual proper conversation / have a laugh with DD / burst with pride at what an amazing young woman she is becoming. 4yr old DS gives me cuddles and kisses and I savour every minute he is growing up. DD can be incredibly thoughtful and frustrating in equal measure. DS can be incredibly loving and a bit frustrating.

If they stay at home near by that'd be great, if they move away because they want life fulfilment then so be it, that's love isn't it, nurturing something and allowing them freedom to follow their own path.

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks OP, take each day and enjoy watching your child grow. No one can take away precious memories.

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