When Anya was born and Daniel was not quite two years old, I just about lost my mind. Well, not really, but it was a bigger adjustment than I'd anticipated, taking care of a toddler and a newborn full-time while my newly-acquired graduate degree collected proverbial dust. I was incredibly sleep-deprived, I had marathon diaper-changing sessions, my biggest challenge every day was finding a free hour to make dinner, and I could feel my brain beginning to atrophy. I also felt like the only thing I had to look forward to was my children getting a little older so I could finally breathe again. When people - especially parents of teenagers - would say to me, "Oh you should enjoy this sweet time! It goes so fast!" it filled me with equal amounts of guilt for clearly not enjoying every blessed moment and rage at the audacity of telling me how I should feel, that I shouldn't consider spending every waking moment playing peekaboo and wiping butts the ultimate bliss.
The other thing people would say to me was this: It gets easier. It will get easier. And you know what? They were right. For now, anyway, things are easier. Don't get me wrong. Being the parent of a 6-year-old-going-on-30 who is almost too smart for his own good, and a sensitive, precocious 4-year-old who gets up at 5:30 every morning and thus falls to pieces when she can't find her neon pink socks - this has its challenges. But it's nice to be able to have a real, actual conversation with my children (when they don't choose to ignore me). It's nice that they are self-sufficient in the bathroom. It's nice that at least half the time they'll eat whatever I've fixed for dinner. And it's really nice to have just a few hours to myself during the week while they are both in school/preschool. It's basically just enough time to get groceries, go running and catch up on the laundry, and occasionally eat lunch while reading the newspaper, but that's more than I've had so far, so I'll take it.
I know some big challenges are ahead of me. Six months into Daniel's first year in the public schools has been plenty to remind me of the social complexities of childhood, the rapidity with which friendships are won and lost, and the frustrations everyone shares with the public education system. At some point we'll start the extracurricular activities and discover passions and talents for things like sports or music that will turn me into not much more than a glorified chauffeur, and eventually those pre-adolescent hormones will kick in...but that's not happening just yet.
Things will get harder again, I know, but for now I'm so grateful that I - and they - have made it this far. I will have patience. And I do enjoy this time.