Does Parenting Get Easier?

by | Jan 17, 2015 | Parenting/Family | 5 comments

Does parenting get easier?

I hear this question get asked all over the place.



While listening in on conversations.

Oh come on, YOU DO IT TOO.

The question is asked in those exact words, or phrased some other way, but the heart of the question is actually a plea… “PLEASE TELL ME THIS PARENTING THING GETS EASIER!”

If I were the Chief Question Answerer, my official answer would be a loud “NOPE!” and then I would slam my gavel.

Assuming Chief Question Answerers have gavels and whathaveyou.

But really, the answer is much more complex than a simple yes or no.

Take, for example.. me.

I like babies. They are scrumptious. Delightful. Often chubby.

And even though sometimes I SWEAR my uterus still aches for another… my childbearing years are behind me and however badly I long to breathe in the smell of a baby’s head… I snap out of it and remember… I am not much of a baby person… when it comes to raising people, that is.

Baby people and baby animals are cute by design… a.k.a, SURVIVAL. Only cute little baby creatures can scream for any or no reason and poop everywhere and randomly spit-up on clean clothes of their own and others and NOT SLEEP EVER and still garner the maddest and most devoted love of their caregivers.

The baby and toddler years were hard because that whole “not being able to communicate or reason with them” was a tough one for me. Though some would argue they cannot communicate or reason with their teens.


Does it get easier?


I will say, there seems to be a sweet spot, say 8-11… There’s independence (they can tie their own shoes and pour their own milk). They are old enough that they have honed their communication skills, but are not so grown they have hormones.

It’s like a breathing space between waves.

Double rainbows, even.

As much as I want to encourage the parents of babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary-ers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, adults… I don’t think I can.

In good conscience.

The GOOD NEWS is: no day is ever the same. At THE VERY LEAST, parents of babies, YOU WILL SLEEP AGAIN.

Parents of toddlers: They will grow into those bodies and won’t always hit their head on everything.

Parents of preschoolers: Not every trip to the grocery store will end with them laying, screaming on the store floor for whatever (if any) reason.


My oldest is 15, so I have a limited amount of personal experience to draw on – especially when it comes to long-term teen parenting. And NO experience in playing the role of parent of an adult. However, let’s face it, once a parent, always a parent; and even though the relationship seems to drastically change… once you is somebody’s mama – you is always that somebody’s mama.

Or dad.

Because the baby and toddler years were so hard for me, I hoped for the day “It” would get easier. If I could have bought stock in that hope, I would have.

I was so cute.

To. this. day. I would rather have 10 teen boys over for a sleepover that 5 mamas and 5 toddlers for a morning playdate.

In some ways it has been easier, simply because I have always loved youth. I went to school to be a middle school teacher. I am not one now, but I have a natural leaning and interest and admiration for that age.

Overall, I have not found parenting to be easier as the years progress. The struggles have changed. The worries have changed. Issues have changed. And to be brutally honest… it is actually harder.


I refer to the early years as the years of sweating. They were physical years. These later years are years of fretting.

You see, there may or may not come a point… say the summer before your oldest’s 9th grade year… that you realize you may only have traditional 4 summers left with this kid under your charge. For YEARS (at least 14 of them) you have had all the say and control to force family visits and vacations and outings and… and suddenly you realize you may only have 4 summers left.

Maybe. If he doesn’t get a job. Which he needs to get a job on account of that driver’s license and insurance and…

Might I add – TEEN DRIVER.

The worries of a baby mama is fevers and if baby is reaching milestones and breastfeeding and sleep training (or not sleep training). All very big, very consuming.

The worries of toddler mamas is “IS MY CHILD GOING TO BE A MONSTER?!” and reaching milestones, and if they are eating enough of the right food, or eating organic enough, etc…

The preschooler mama often worries about milestones (development), social skills (there are few preschoolers who have them), academic prowess (don’t get me started), and many worry if their child will ever let them go to the bathroom by themselves. Separation anxiety can be a beast at this stage, which catches parents off-guard. I know if caught me off guard. With ALL 3.

The elementary mama worries, again… about socialization and social skills (SCHOOL!), academic performance, shoe tying, homework (OMGosh HOMEWORK, PEOPLE!), and whether junior is in enough extra-curricular activities or not.

The middle school and high school mama’s worries have a bit of crossover as independence grows. This is where I feel parenting does become harder, no matter how much I prefer teens over babies.

While the care of babies is hard and important – parents some control. They can take baby to the doctor and keep baby under strict climate control. Sick teen kids aren’t fun, but it’s not as scary nor worrisome as a sick baby. I had one who contracted RSV. It can get VERY scary.

What is scary and worrisome in the tween and teen years is their growing independence.

There’s the whole being able to drive thing.

And of course, there’s social media.

All the years we’ve spent caring and protecting and teaching are coming to a head in the teen years.

There are cell phones and driver’s licenses (or friends with a license). It is less likely we have the opportunity to meet/know the parents of the kids they are choosing as friends. I didn’t realize how well-crafted our circle was until middle school and high school hit.

The kids receive invitations to sleepovers to homes I’ve never seen, and parents I’ve never met… parents of kids I have never heard of. Who even lives in these homes?

Seriously, who?

I throw that question out quite seriously.

I may or may not be an over-thinker. And/or over-worrier.

This is not scientific research, but I have friends who have adult children (early 20s) and in talking to them… they would suggest it is the hardest of all of the years.

These adult children can now choose – to have a relationship with the parent or not. There is this delicate balance of still being a parent (these adult children are not yet our of college and/or living on their own), but hvaing to fully let go of all the power (real or assumed) one had in the earlier years.

Honestly, I feel we have never had power. Thinking we (parents) do is just something that has been handed down from our ancient forebearers so we can emotionally cope. From the day of birth, we take responsibility of a fully, independent will. A will that is not our won.

So. Does it get easier?

There will not always be 3 a.m. feedings, so that gets easier. But that’s about the easierest of it all.

However, I would never put a mom of a 3-month-old with a mom of a 18 year-old to argue the point. It would be like putting an apple and an orange into a boxing ring.

Or something like that.

Maybe it just gets different.

No one could endure 18 years of breastfeeding and waking every 2 hours.

No one could endure 18 years of tantrums on the grocery store floor.

No one could endure 18 years of lending out the family car and eye rolling.


Woven into all of this is the knowledge that every family is so different. The parenting of every child is so different too. Even children within families. There are chronic illnesses to consider. And life happenings. But overall… I think this gig called parenting is tough.

I don’t know who said it but someone said… “The best view comes after the hardest climb.”

Will that best view come when our kids are 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40?

I doubt there will ever be one culminating view. But the idea is none of the best things have ever been easily acquired. From the Noble Peace Prize, to Olympic Gold Medals, to winning the lottery.

Wait. The lottery is an exception.

Fortunately, we DO get to peek at that best view along the way. Those moments of calm, of fun, of craziness, that random, long conversation with your quiet one that is the exception and not the rule… that one time everyone agrees to smile in the picture. It’s those moments we cling to. It’s those moments we get our oxygen to continue the journey.

Which apparently never ends.


I suppose, in summary, I continue to realize how very important it is to live in the moment and treasure each season with our kids. None will be the same… kids nor season. There is no guarantee it will be better. There’s not guarantee it will be worse. We must take hold of the moments and milestones we are given… or often create. Find rest when there is an opportunity for rest, and laugh hard as you can when there is laughter. And try to catch that on video. Home movies are the best.

Family capture.

*Originally published January 2014*

*One year later… I still feel the same. And this parenting gig is even better, but also even harder that when I first wrote this*

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