Reading back through my blog posts struggling through the toddler years, I repeatedly mused that it wouldn’t last forever and that some day we’d reach the magical five-year-old milestone. Well we’re here now, and it’s everything I thought it would be. I’ve finally reached that light at the end of the tantrum filled tunnel.
I had a rough go of things as a stay-at-home mom, often on my own, with a very active and alert little boy. I didn’t sleep more than three hours at a time for over a year and existed in a sort of zombie-like haze of poop and screaming. My son presented a fabulous case for remaining an only-child and the only shred of hope I clung to was that it will get better at five.
Why five you might wonder? Well my well-seasoned mom friends with multiple children would often mention the average childhood “sweet spot” of five and six. This is the age that they stop having so many tantrums, can communicate better and listen better. They are still young enough to think you’re the most amazing person in the world and aren’t embarrassed to be seen with you in public. And they’re not too cool yet to hug and kiss you and call you mommy. I’m sure we’ll deal with a new set of fun issues when we head into the pre-teen years, but I’m soaking up all this sweet little kid stuff right now.
For me the twos were indeed as terrible as they’re fabled to be. The threes nearly sent me over the edge and the fours were better but still rougher than anticipated. And now here we sit at five.
So let me tell you the wonderful things about my five-year-old:
My son sleeps better, later and wakes up happier. I’m getting at least eight glorious hours of sleep a night for the first time in years. And instead of showing up on my side of the bed screaming for no reason as the most horrible alarm clock ever, he crawls into bed and snuggles and often falls right back to sleep. When we do wake up at a still early, but reasonable hour, I get kisses and hugs instead of screeching.
Kindergarten is the greatest thing ever. At five they go to school! Real school that we don’t have to pay for and it lasts until 3PM! I feel like I’m living a dream with these kindergarten days. I think Mondays are the best thing ever.
He’s still emotional, but not crazy. Five-year-olds can still throw a pretty good fit, but they calm down faster and don’t get as insane as they might have during their theatrical toddler years. A five-year-old knows there are consequences for screaming your head off so bad your mom has to throw you over her shoulder and drag your butt out of Target.
He’s actually interested in learning and doing. I tried many things while my son was a toddler– arts and crafts, cooking together, etc. I went into many of those experiences very optimistically and then watched it all go down in flames and usually end in a mess and a tantrum. Now at five he is more into trying to do things and learn how to do things, and his attention span is more than five seconds. (We’ve progressed to about five minutes, but still, it’s progress, lol)
We’re done with diapers, baby bags and stinky sippy cups. I am so happy to be done with diapers and pull-ups! I’m still on butt-wiping duty, but it’s way better than diapers. And another five-year-old milestone is moving past sippy cups that always eventually stink like sour milk no matter how good you clean them. And because we don’t need all that, I don’t have to lug around a big baby bag anymore. I was able to downsize to a reasonably sized bag that can hold hand wipes and a snack, which are two things a mom should never be without.
Happy to Be a Happy Mom
I feel like I spent the first few years mostly frustrated and annoyed, with little bursts of happy here and there. If anything, that experience has helped me to be a more tolerant and patient person. I certainly have a much better understanding of kids and the fact that they have the capacity to be awful sometimes no matter what you do. But even through that awfulness, you still love them and try to help them grow into a decent human being.
I feel like all that effort is finally paying off! Our son fills our house with joy, love and laughter on a daily basis. Sure there’s still the occasional meltdown, but it’s much easier to get through that now that it’s not an all-day thing. People will constantly tell you how “You’ll miss these days,” when talking about babies and toddlers. But no, I don’t. I’m just glad I got through it. If I miss anything, it’s going to be this wonderful year of being five.