My grandmother visited with us shortly after our third child was born. She was born when our twins were a year and a half old. My grandmother made a point of sitting me down and telling me that I would be glad that I had them all together at twenty-seven. She said that she knew how hard it was, but she promised that I would not regret it, because they would all be grown and going on their way by the time that I was forty five. This is the woman who had three children, each nine months apart. She lived in a home with no hot water, and had to get it from the pump and boil water on the stove to wash three sets of diapers before hanging them out on the line to dry. She did this in Indiana in the summertime, in ninety-degree temperatures with high humidity, and in the winter, with freezing temperatures and a couple feet of snow. I find her awe inspiring.
I am not going to lie and say that those first five years were easy (or that I remember much what happened, due to the sleep deprivation). I am also not going to say that it is easy now…but I will say that it is easier than it was. My number one salvation is the fact that my husband is a highly engaged parent; I can’t imagine what I would do without him. We are in the middle now. The twins are ten and our youngest is just about to turn nine. The ironic thing is that the majority of our friends are just now having kids, or getting ready to. I swear I try to hold it in, but every once in a while I have to giggle to myself about it. One of my closest buddies had a daughter last year, the same year that he turned forty. I also have an old friend who is in her forties as well who, God bless her, just adopted a beautiful little two year old boy.
The reason that I giggle is because of how deeply I envied my friends when our family was in the trenches. Watching people who had lives, go out to parties and concerts and on vacations, while I sat in piles of diapers worried about how we were possibly going to pay for dance classes for the kids. Now, with everything that is going on in our lives, I am beginning to understand what my grandmother was talking about because my husband and I are still going to be pretty young by the time that our kids are grown, and I envision us having a fantastic time. We have even discussed buying a two-birth houseboat so that there is no room for the kids to move back in. My grandmother and grandfather bought their own small passenger plane after their kids were grown and got their pilots’ licenses.
There are pros and cons to everything. My friends who are having kids later in life are now better established, and have many more resources at their disposal than my husband and I did when our kids were little. They won’t have to scrimp and save every day the way that we did, and they won’t have to worry quite as much. They can afford to do-up all of the big milestones, and they can afford to hire babysitters now and again. I honestly don’t know how some of them are doing it energy-wise though. I spent one day with my friends’ three and one year olds, and had the help of my own kids, yet by the end of the day I was completely exhausted. I am truly grateful that I did it when I was younger, I don’t know if I could survive it today.
To be honest, I think that the timing works out best for each family in their own individual situations. I will encourage my kids to start early if they have the opportunity, though I will remind them to always stay close to family. I believe that being far away was one of the hardest things that our young family had to get through. I would be telling a huge lie if I didn’t say that I adore the fact my kids are growing up. I do miss their baby cuteness, but you couldn’t pay me to slow them down. I am ready for them to grow into young adults. I can’t wait until they hit the age when I get to be their friend and not just their mom. I also, admittedly, can’t wait to travel the world with my husband. We have given up a lot to raise these three amazing humans, and I think that we have definitely earned the time off.