When you have a child, everything seems to stop for a moment. The worries of adulthood disappear, at least for a little while, and you are presented with a brand new set of issues to deal with. One of these is sleep-related problems- your baby will sleep for only a few minutes at a time, constantly needing to be rocked, cuddled, or put in the car seat to sleep. You spend more time with them than you would regularly spend with friends, and there are always errands to run, bills to pay, and work responsibilities to take care of. When the time comes for bed, you will find yourself longing for the sleepiness that accompanies the end of a long day- even a day that was a little hectic.
Thankfully, your little one will grow out of this phase, and enter the terrible twos relatively unscathed. They will not yet have developed the advanced bad habits that often accompany adolescence (more on this later)- such as poor dental hygiene, or an inability to regulate their emotions. Unfortunately, these toddler years are also when your little one’s needs will begin to diverge from those of a child. For example, they may need separate clothes, more accessories, or better fitting clothing. This is all rather frustrating, especially as you are still trying to bond with your newborn after spending so much time apart- although not entirely apart, since you both share the same household. They may also want more frequent or longer naptime breaks, or late-night walks, than your spouse and you can start to feel like your time is not your own. You are beginning to feel stretched, and although you still have regular interactions with your spouse, you long for a more one-on-one relationship.
The Terrible Ties That Bind
What will you do when your children become teenagers and demand privacy, independence, and lots of freedom? You may initially welcome these changes- after all, they will grow out of this phase and eventually accept your authority as a parent. However, this may not be the case, and at some point down the line, your teenager may actively defy you and your authority- not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely in a way that makes you wish you could trade places with your baby brother or sister.
The terrible twos, three’s, and four’s are generally considered to be the toughest age brackets for kids. This is because they are the years in which your baby stumbles around a bit, discovering their world and learning to explore it independently. They are also the years in which your kid is faced with a lot of new things that they do not understand, but quickly learn to grapple with. Your child will need your help as they explore their world, make new friends, learn to deal with issues and problems, and most importantly, grow into functional, independent citizens.
As they grow into adolescence, your teenager will be faced with a whole new set of issues. They will have to decide who they want to be friends with, what they want to do with their life, and how they want to act. This is also the time when they will start to see their friends’ parents as the enemy and want to rebelled against your rules and authority. As much as you may still love and miss your baby, these are also the years when you will feel a strong sense of disappointment and even resentment towards them. This is normal, even if it is not easy to process or accept- it will pass, and you will grow to love and appreciate your teenager in the end.
Some parents, particularly those who had fairly chaotic childhoods themselves, may experience postpartum depression. This is a condition where the mother experiences prolonged feelings of sadness and anxiety. While many mothers bounce back quickly, some may struggle with depression for months or even years. This is something to watch out for, so if you or a family member is showing symptoms of depression, it is essential to get help and treatment rather than trying to tough it out. Luckily, this is also the time when your baby will start to show an interest in their surroundings and in new people, which will make it easier for you to connect with them. This is one of the times when your child will need you the most, so keep your eyes open for any signs of distress and act quickly to ease their pain.
More Than Meets The Eye
If your baby starts to show an interest in other humans, particularly others who are significantly younger than them, this may be a red flag. They may begin to sense that they are different from the other children, and that they stand out more than others. This could be because they are more mature, or it could be because they possess some sort of magical quality that draws other people to them. Regardless, this is a phase that you need to watch out for, and if you believe that your baby is acting in a way that is not typical of their age group, seek help immediately to determine the cause of this behavior.
This is also the time when your child will develop a sense of identity, separate from your partner, and it will be up to you to help them find a place in this world that is comfortable and feels right to them. Some children will need more time, while others will feel ready to make their presence known from the very beginning. Be there for them, listen to their needs and concerns, and ensure that they know they can come to you for anything- no matter how big or small the issue may be.