It's strange being thrown into babyhood again, while also parenting an (almost) tween. I'm changing diapers and breastfeeding while dealing with the puberty and mood swings. Add in the antics of an active little kindergartener who wants a little more of mommy's attention, and our household has become quite an interesting place.
It wasn't until two years ago or so that I realized that parenting a baby is nothing compared to parenting a big kid. Yes. You get more sleep and the tantrums are fewer. But, when you're a parent of a grade schooler, you're in the big leagues now. You're worried about so much more than how long they're sleeping and whether they're eating enough. It's real. And everything matters.
Having our baby Josie has made me realize that parenting a baby is not as hard as I believed back in the early days with Julie. When Julie was fussy or cranky or wouldn't sleep or eat, it was a huge insurmountable problem to me. How can I fix this? What am I doing wrong? Should I let her cry? Am I holding her too much? Am I not holding her enough? What if she misses a nap? I would constantly fret I wasn't getting it right, and I was constantly searching for answers.
With Josie, of course, I'm trying to make sure she's happy and healthy. But, it's completely OK if she has a rough day or if I have a rough day for that matter. She's just a baby trying to figure out the world.
Parenting a 9-year-old however is much trickier. In our eyes, Julie is still our innocent, naïve little girl--who just recently figured out the meaning of "ass." Up until a few months ago, she truly believed mascots were real. The secret was out when she saw a cheetah mascot remove its furry head during the school fun fair. She's a bit immature for her age, but she's beginning to figure things out, and question things, and understand adult topics. She wonders when she'll have armpit hair, and she writes about kids "dating" in her diary. She wants to be included in our big adult world, but she still wants to stay little. She told me so.
These years are so strange and tough. I know it. I went through it. You're stuck between little kid life and big kid life, and you're not sure where you fit in. You long to stay in the comfortable world of little kids, but you know too much and you can't go back. And you, admittedly a bit curious about the real adult world.
Having Josie has been such a blessing for Julie. In two months, she has grown up beyond belief, and I think she feels a sense of purpose. And maybe she's ready to move on and grow up.
Meanwhile, I'm here to help her navigate the scary world and answer all her questions and help her figure out who she is. All while rocking her baby sister and playing with her little brother.
It's a crazy life, but it's a good one.