When you become a parent, it's normal to expect it to be tough. You never really know just how tough until you have your child, but when they arrive, many new parents realize it is probably going to be both the hardest and best thing they've ever done. But when your children are young, tough can be somewhat of an understatement.
I haven't been through any stage of parenting past the age of two, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that — for myself — I think parenting infants and toddlers is going to be the most difficult stage.
Sure, there are going to be some very difficult stages of my children's development in the future, but it's going to be a different kind of difficult. Think about it, my babies will be able to feed themselves, get dressed by themselves and even bathe themselves. They'll be able to walk into a store next to you instead of needing to be snapped out of a car seat and carried or pushed in. They'll be able to express to you what hurts, what they need, or why they're angry — even if those words in anger are not very nice, at least you'll understand. They'll (hopefully!) sleep through the night. And — if they don't — you don't have to stay up all night walking circles around your living room rocking and shushing them to sleep, all while you barely cling to your sanity and use every ounce of energy you have not to topple over into a big sleepy pile of person on the floor.
Physically, there probably won't be any harder time to be a parent than when your children are young. And the physicality of the initial years takes a toll on what you're capable of mentally, too. Exhausted, sore, and drained parents have a tougher time being patient, loving, and relaxed. That physical toll on your body can make everything else seem even more difficult.
Parenting infants and toddlers can be hard — very, very hard. Right now I can't see any other stage of parenting that would be more difficult in the long run. Just in case, though, I may save this post for a good laugh when my kids hit the teenage years!
What was the toughest stage of parenting for you? Do you think the hard parts lie ahead?