This contribution is a guest post from blogger, Katie P. Look forward to more from Katie in future posts.
When you have several small children close in age, many of the milestones tend to blur together. I have “stair step” children, courtesy of my combined family. Ferris is six, Emilia is five and London is soon-to-be four. Though there are some developmental differences, they generally play together, have similar interests and are on the same schedules. My husband and I jokingly call them “the olders” when we don’t have the time, or don’t feel like naming them individually. There is almost precisely 13 months between each of them in order… and then, there is the baby.
Erinn is almost exactly three years younger than the next youngest in our family of four kids. She is also just shy of the one-year mark. She eats differently. She sleeps differently. She bathes alone (with mommy looking on). She has her own toy box, though she would much prefer to chew on the gazillions of LEGOs I step on around the clock or drool on any number of television remotes. When my husband and I are both home, we segment the kids into two groups: the olders and the baby. Generally he does bath time with the three bigger ones while I feed, nurse or chase around the smallest one.
Having a child in such a different age bracket has opened my eyes to the way I treat the other three. Mainly, it has made me realize how quickly their individual milestones are passing – and how many I’ve missed along the way. I can barely remember when my oldest daughter first started speaking in complete sentences, or who her first friend was in preschool (just this year, by the way). My stepson is almost done with his first year of Kindergarten and I am still reminding myself to talk to the room mom about volunteer opportunities.
And then there’s London – who gets the least amount of fanfare, I’d say. My husband and I often talk about how she will be participating in Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program in the fall but just yesterday I finally said “Oh yeah – I think we need to go to an info meeting and get her signed up.” Time is flying by and I feel like I’m only catching glimpses of the milestones of my oldest ones in the rearview mirror. Even a quick glance at the photos on my phone and Facebook page are baby-heavy.
I realize that babies need more attention. I know that my older kids are worlds beyond where the baby is in terms of self-sufficiency. I see every minor detail of Erinn’s life because I am literally next to her every moment. The olders have their own lives in many ways and my role in them is becoming smaller each day. When my oldest daughter was the age of my baby, I looked forward to the time when she would have more freedom (and so would I). I couldn’t wait to get London potty trained. I was eager to ship Ferris off to all-day Kindergarten.
Now as I watch my youngest, and final, child reaching milestones I am filled with a little regret that I wished some of that time way with the olders. I wish I had spent a little less time worrying about teaching them to clean up, and a little more making messes together. I wish I’d enjoyed those extra 10 minutes at bedtime when they wanted to talk about their birthday wish lists for the hundredth time instead of anxiously wanting to head for the door. Above all, I wish I had let myself enjoy, and not try to over-manage, their days as small children.
I know they are still small and I know I have plenty of quality years still ahead of me to spend making messes, and chatting at bedtime, and enjoying their presence. It’s never too late to reinvest in your kids. Sometimes we just need a small reminder.
Katie Parsons is a freelance writer and editor who owns a content creation company, Proof Parsons. She works from her home office on Florida’s Space Coast. She has a background in news media but mostly enjoys writing about her family on her blog, Mumbling Mommy. You can contact her by visiting the blog or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.