The Gymnastics of Motherhood: Bending but Not Breaking

children playing in yard with woman

I bet at least once in your life you have heard the illustration of the rubberband around your wrist to act as a reminder to be flexible. Maybe you have even snapped yourself with it as you begrudgingly willed yourself to act against your natural impulse. Motherhood has added a new dimension to this symbolic lesson of the rubberband for me. 

There are 6 and half years between my oldest and youngest (and one smack in the middle). One seems to be on the cusp of adulthood as he grasps at 14; the other still loves being thought of as the baby even though she is a very mature 7-year-old. Right now, these two need very different things from me. I feel lopsided at times trying to do this dance between being a little girl mom and a teenage boy mom.

The Rhythm of Life with My Youngest

I find myself relishing the “bath routine” still with my littlest because it keeps her little in my head. It soothes me to have a bit left of the routine we’ve had for almost 14 years. She can read so well by herself and doesn’t find as much joy in reading endless picture books together as she used to. It kind of breaks my heart to lose some of the rhythms we’ve had for so long. But I press on and try to shape little activities into our day that remind the both of us that she is still little. 

Giving My Oldest Space and Silence

My teenage son needs lots of space and silence, which I’m kind of terrible at providing. But, in some ways, he also needs me to be more available than ever. I never know when he will want to talk or hang out. I have to be harder on him for certain things because we are running out of time to teach lessons. And yet, because he has the latest bedtime of all three, we can play cards on the couch and laugh hysterically at each other which diffuses any pressure that has built up during the day. We can talk like adults and have big picture conversations which is really cool! 

Finding Balance as I’m Stretched

The hard parts of each of their personalities catapult me to the other child in order to gain some kind of peace. Or I just go hang with my middle child who seems to be the lowest maintenance at this juncture. I think, for a certain amount of years, my kids all needed the same basic things from me, and I from them. But that has completely changed and I feel stretched further than ever before. My picture of the rubberband is a saggy, worn out, threadbare rubberband.

However, I am trying to do this dance well, to eek out the joys as well as the heartaches of this journey called motherhood. I’m trying to stay flexible in regards to what my children need while not getting too close to the snapping point. The hardest years are still to come, and I want to be strong and reinforced to withstand them. I want to be a proud, confident mom who is present in the various multicolored moments each child presents. But, I fail….a lot….to be at my best. There is a lot of grace to be found. Grace for me, and for my kids. A new day brings a fresh start and I have to intentionally remember that. 

What about you? What muscles does motherhood have you stretching? How do you balance the age gaps between your kids? 

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