We had a landmark day in our household the other day: we said goodbye to diapers. As in, completely. Our three-year-old hadn't needed them during the day for a long time, but my husband and I were still putting her in pullups at night—probably more for our peace of mind than for hers. When we finally decided to pull the plug on the pullups, she was fine with it.
This is a big deal. A very big deal. Why? Because, if you think about it, we have been changing diapers, in some form or quantity, for more than five years. And now we're entering an entirely new stage of parenting.
When my kids were babies, I remember how frustrating it was when they did certain things. That period where they throw things on the floor all the time, for example. Or the terrible twos (and threes, and even fours), when they act like completely unreasonable little dictators most of the time. "Hang in there; it's a phase," other parents said. "It will pass."
And you know what? They were right. That was the best piece of parenting advice I ever got.
The days are long but the years are short...and nowhere is this truer than in the never-ending responsibility of parenting. While you're in the the thick of it, some of those annoying phases seem to last forever. But later, when you look back on them, it feels like it all happened in the blink of an eye.
When I look at my five-year-old, sometimes, I catch a glimpse of what she'll be like at fifteen. There will still be drama, but instead of playground cliques, it will be boy drama or girl drama. The choices will be harder; the stakes will be higher. Certainly, I will no longer be the centre of her universe. So why would I rush it?
Every age and stage of parenting is unique, with its own challenges and joys. As parents, we stay (more or less) the same, while our children grow up and build their own independent lives. That's as it should be. But how lucky we are: we get to come along for the ride.