Four years ago, when Guppy was one, my doctors, therapist and I were trying to manage what turned out to be more than a run-of-the-mill post-partum depression. Instead, a long-standing seam of depression and anxiety had been opened up by the seismic shift of having a second child. As we worked through what was needed for treatment, I was told again and again by friends, doctors and counselors: it gets better. Especially around the time they’re five and seven. Many also admitted to me that they hadn’t enjoyed parenting very small children, and it was only as time passed that they settled into their role as parents.
Four years ago, four years seemed a very long time to wait till things got better. And the time, for me, has not chirpily flown. It has passed, one day at a time. Slower with diapers, bloody noses, fevers, screaming, and each extra syllable added to Mom!” Faster with cuddles, reading aloud and hand-holding. Fastest of all in quiet moments to myself, like the one I’m in now. But it has passed. My boys are now five and seven, and I’m here to testify: it _is_ better.
It’s no coincidence that the shift takes place when the younger is five. They can do many things themselves, especially going to the bathroom, and don’t need constant supervision. They’re able to reason, and play with others. They’ve got some impulse control. And being in school (my younger will start kindergarten this fall; we don’t know yet whether he’ll be in full or half day class) means they get more peer interaction, and I get more quiet time. For this introvert, quiet time on my own is critical to balance and well being.
I’m under no illusion that things will be rainbow and sunshine from here on. Other parents also say that while some things get easier as they grow, others get harder. But I feel much better equipped to handle the current challenges than I did the old ones. So add my voice to the chorus. When the youngest is about five, it gets easier. I’m glad we’ve all hung in there to find this was true.