It’s April and my oldest daughter, Ellary, turns 7 at the end of the month. I know it sounds corny to say but here it is: I literally do NOT know how we hit 7. 7 sounds so old. Riding bikes in the neighborhood old. Drop-off party old. Gaining independence old. My girl is a complicated jumble of contradictions. She can be so jealous of not being the center of attention, but, when left on her own on a Saturday morning, you’ll most likely find her reading to her baby sister. She rages and screams “you’re the worst mom ever!” when she doesn’t get her way, but pulls my blanket up and kisses my forehead if I’ve gone to bed with a migraine. She is my greatest challenge and, along with her tiny follow-along sister, my greatest joy.
We have seen and learned a lot in our seven years of parenting. From the funny, to the gut wrenching, to the in-between; some lessons learned…
- There is nothing better than a sleeping baby in your arms. Nothing drops my blood pressure or makes me feel completely justified in doing nothing for two hours like holding a baby does.
- Hand Foot and Mouth (aka HFM) is the devil’s disease. Nothing prepared me for seeing my poor girl with mouth sores so bad she refused her precious pacifier and I could feed her nothing but vanilla milkshakes and watch Frozen on repeat for a week before the blisters passed.
- If there is something a kid can knock their head on, they will. Even the best babyproofing will not stop them from hitting their head against a wall, table, chair, bedframe, your legs, the dog’s tail, the floor, the grass, the side of a slide, or their sibling. Most of the time, they’ll be totally fine.
- Having good friends who have been-there-done-that or, are there-and-doing-it, is critical. I am lucky enough to have a mom friend who’s an ICU nurse. She is instrumental in helping me play the “Pediatrician or ER?” game.
- Keep a spare set of clothes and a pack of baby wipes in any vehicle in which your children will travel. Even big kids puke.
- Babies are sick all the time but they will grow out of it. Ellary was sick once or twice a month until 2 ½ years old, but has had nearly-perfect attendance in elementary school. I was so scared about how often she was sick that I demanded blood work twice to confirm we didn’t have to worry about the “really scary” stuff. I learned to advocate for my daughter but also learned that kids just get sick sometimes and there isn’t always a horrible reason why, thankfully.
- You will also get sick all the time. If kids’ germs could sparkle, you’d shine brighter than Edward from Twilight on a beach.
- Speaking of kindergarten, do what you can to not cry in front of your kiddo on the first day. Even if they went to pre-K or are otherwise used to being separated from you, kindergarten is big and new and they need to see you keep it together so they do, too. I was pregnant and unable to consume large quantities of morning-appropriate alcohol, so I wore oversize sunglasses and mustered through watching my just-born-yesterday daughter walk through those big gates. I lost my ever-loving mind in my car on the way home and you can, too.
- Your kid will try approximately 347 different activities by the time they hit 7. We have gone through: tumbling, swimming, karate, dance, cupcake decorating, horseback riding, and have finally settled on gymnastics, which she loves. For now.
- It is extremely annoying when your big kid crawls into your bed like a Navy Seal at 2:00 in the morning. Balance the urge to put them back in their own bed with the knowledge that this too shall pass. I think.
- On that note, stop reading “this is the last time I’ll sucker out a booger nose and other sentimental lasts” articles if they hit you too hard. Devouring ostensibly sweet articles encouraging me to stop and smell the roses contributed to the extreme guilt I felt anytime I wanted to schedule even small amounts of time away from my daughter. I promise you that there exists a state of parenting between wanting to squish their little bodies close and not let go until college and child abandonment. I suggest you find it earlier than I did.
- We recently hit the reading age. Ellary has been reading for about a year and just recently started devouring simple chapter books. Lately we read together (from our own books) while the baby naps or has gone to bed like two old friends.
This girl has taught me so much in 7 years. My heart is happy. I hope you find your happy during these years, too.