Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Before I Had a Seven Year Old

New motherhood is a beautiful thing. There's nothing quite so glorious as a sweet squishy brand new little person, full of possibilities. Everything is new and wonderous and you are experiencing it all for the very first time.

New motherhood is a terrible thing. There's nothing quite so nerve-wracking as a squirmy floppy helpless little person, full of mysteries (and weird black poop). Everything is new and confusing and you are experiencing it all for the very first time.

There was a time when most mothering was done in community. People lived multigenerationally, families stayed put in the same town. Babies and children were a part of people's daily life.

That wasn't the case for me. I had one sister, three years younger than I. I had no cousins in town. I was aware of babies, of course. I had seen them on TV. But when my husband handed me my firstborn son at the hospital, I'm pretty sure it was the very first time I had ever held an infant. Ever.

But it wasn't going to be a problem. I had read all the books. I knew just how to handle this. Right?

Wrong.

I had a lot of learning to do. There were a lot of rude awakenings. Both literally and figuratively. And as wonderful as my husband and my mom and my sister and my mother-in-law were, they weren't always there to help. I was often on my own. That's why, many years later, at my friend Kate's baby shower, when someone asked me what was the item I most recommended for newborns, I replied, "A seven year old."

For me, having a seven year old means many things. It means I've been down this road before. I know every cry, every bumped noggin, every runny nose, every out-way-past-bedtime isn't the end of the world. I've seen the amazing range of things kids can live through. It means baby and thinking-about-baby cannot consume my every waking moment and two-thirds of my should-be-sleeping moments, because I have other children and other responsibilities. It means I'm a more well-rounded person. And it means I'm not in this alone. I have someone who can push the baby in the swing or in a stroller while I take a shower. I have someone who can hand the baby Cheerios one by one while I make dinner. I have someone who can make a box of macaroni and cheese if the me-making-dinner thing just isn't going to happen. It means I have someone who can run upstairs and get me a new diaper when I accidently rip the velcro tab off of this one . . . twice. I have someone who can sit next to the baby in the car and keep her from falling asleep for four minutes thereby ruining nap time and, by extension, my entire life.

Seven year olds are great.

Unfortunately, the most common way to get a seven year old, is to have one of those terrifying newborns and spend many years waiting for it to turn seven and become helpful. It's time consuming and frustrating, yes. But I highly recommend it.

Kate was so moved by my helpful baby shower suggestion, that she's created an entire linkup to go along with it. She'll be interviewing moms with older kids on how ridiculous we were back then, and how everything's a breeze now. Okay, maybe not quite, but it sure is better. Anyway, I am honored to be the first interviewee. If you've got a blog and a seven year old, write up your story of survival and hope and link it up over at Kate's introductory post. The new mothers of the world will thank you.

Here is my interview . . .

Before I Had a Seven Year Old: Kendra of Catholic All Year

And here is the linkup . . .

Before I Had a Seven Year Old: A Series and a Link-Up

Happy mothering everyone!

 


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5 comments:

  1. I love 7 year olds...it is the greatest age in the world.....the only thing that matters to them in life is making you happy. Oh, they are even better than 4 yr olds and 4 yr olds are the bomb!!!!

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad to hear this about 4 year olds! My oldest will be 4 in a couple weeks, and 3 has been rather trying, though i know he's doing well for a 3 year old. I'm ready for a bit of a change!
      Kendra, your blog has really made large family life seem so appealing, even to this very introverted intj type. I'm looking forward to adding on to our two! Thanks!

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  2. I am going to have a 7-year-old in a few months, and I'm looking forward to it! But I've never had a newborn since he was 2 when we adopted him, so I'm not qualified to participate. :) But such a fun post! Looking forward to the series!

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  3. I love this post, all so true!

    I am looking forward to having a seven year old with a new baby, but a little concerned about the younger ones, who revel in eye-poking and body-slam wrestling.

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  4. Totally agree. I was initially concerned while pregnant with my third, because my older two were 10 and 7 at the time, and I REALLY hadn't wanted that big of a gap in my kids. But we'd been semi-actively trying for about 3 or 4 years, so what can you do? Oh well.

    Turns out it's been great. When the baby was very small, I had to tell my 10-year-old that because I'm the mom, I get to hold the baby sometimes. She quite literally did not want to put him down. Now that he's a toddler, the 7-year-old (who is now 8) is the one with the energy to run around with him, chase him, and play loudly with him - he loves it and I just don't have the energy after working all day.

    Between me, my husband, and my two girls, we have four people who can all take care of the baby, and it's so much easier than when I had two little girls by myself.

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