'Golden Ages': Some Parenting Years Are Just Better Than Others

When I look back on the most challenging parenthood moments I've experienced to date, I have no trouble coming up with a long and colorful list.

The newborn stage. The months-long stretch when my second son refused to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. The whiny, shrieky 18-month stage. The time my first son, then a mercurial toddler, smacked me in the face—REPEATEDLY—in response to being carried from a playground in full tantrum mode. The picky stage, and the associated food battles. The summer my oldest became terrified of airplanes and burst into tears each and every time one buzzed by ... 30,000 feet overhead.

(I don't have to tell you that the good times have far outweighed the bad, do I? I like to believe every mother can relate to how there are ups and downs to this parenthood gig, and being honest about the less-than-Hallmark moments doesn't mean we don't appreciate the full package.)


I think of certain ages as being inherently difficult (newborns, pre-vocal toddlers), and being a parent during one of those phases can mean that life gets tilted a little towards the "HRRRRNGH OMFG PASS THE ADVIL" side of things. And then there are easier ages, where things just seem smoother, and entire days go by without anyone counting down the seconds until bedtime.

Now, my kids are still pretty young, so I'm not exactly a seasoned veteran here, but it seems to me that there are "golden ages" in parenting. Months or maybe even years where you wish, even more than you usually do, that motherhood came with a pause button.

Maybe every age looks like a golden age in retrospect, when your children are grown and it seems like you'd give anything for them to need you the way they once did. But I suspect every parent thinks of some years as being better than others, don't you?

I'd say my kids are in a golden age right now. Our oldest is 6, his brother is 4. They're both too young to be concerned about what's cool and what's not, and they love nothing more than having the full attention of their parents. They get wildly excited at the drop of a hat, and what their attention spans may lack in long-term focus, they more than make up for with short-term enthusiasm. Their imaginations run a million miles in every direction—unfettered, for the most part, by preconceived notions and eye-rolling disbeliefs. They thrive on hugs, giggles, and spoonfuls of peanut butter. ("Can I have a glomp? The hugest glomp!") They can communicate their needs, they're out of diapers, they sleep through the night, and they can help with chores. You guys, we're even 50 percent done with having to help project-manage every butt wipe!

Of course, they're also relentlessly loud, destructive, and capable of fighting about the dumbest things imaginable, including who gets to open the door in the morning to let the cat in. But oh, 6 and 4. Their baby-teeth grins, their little-boy necks, their softly popped bellybuttons and scabbed, knobby knees. Their pipsqueak voices, grimy-fingernail'd hugs, and round-eyed wonder. I'm going to miss this golden age so very, very much.

What were (or are) your parenting golden ages? Or do you think every childhood stage is equally special?

Image via Linda Sharps

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